In the lead-up to an inevitable divorce, and even during the pendency of a divorce, spouses often make critical mistakes that dramatically affect the outcome of the case. An awareness of these common mistakes can help an individual avoid the bad outcome that can result, and more importantly, avoid negative consequences to the children. This week's blog post will address some of these common mistakes.
moving out of the family residence
In a contested custody case, the Judge will consider the current living arrangements as powerful evidence of what the parties consider to be in the best interest of the children. For example, if at the time of the hearing, the father has been living away from the children for several months, voluntarily leaving the children with the mother during that time, the father will have a difficult time persuading the Judge that he should be appointed as managing conservator. Obviously, there are some circumstances that warrant a move, but an individual contemplating divorce should carefully consider the ramifications and consult with an attorney first.
DENYING ACCESS TO THE CHILDREN
Judges hate to hear evidence that one parent has denied the other parent access to the children, unless there is evidence that the parent was legitimately protecting the children from harm. One important factor in making custody decisions is how reasonable and flexible a parent is with co-parenting the children and allowing the children access to the other parent.
Disparaging remarks to the children about the other parent is a major mistake.
Doing so usually causes the Judge to believe that the parent is immature and not willing to safeguard children from the tension between the parents. Also, any threatening or foul language toward, or even about, the other spouse is harmful to the ourcome of your case. Finally, communications (and relationships) with a new paramour, even post-separation, can cause the Judge to see you as distracted and not acting in the best interest of the children. It is best to postpone any new relationships until the case is over.
abuse of drugs and alcohol
Abuse of alcohol and/or drugs usually results in a parent losing a custody battle. If the other spouse alleges improper drug or alcohol use, the Judge typically will order screening that will show the type and amount of drugs used. Testing can be done by urin, hair, fingernail and blood testing, and shows with a strong degree of reliability the person's history over the past 90 days or more.
Destroying or hiding property
Destroying or hiding property is a bad idea. In a court proceeding, parties are allowed to obtain information that will show exactly what happened in the past and who did it. Upon sufficient proof, the Judge can order the person who did so to reimburse the innocent spouse, or can award remaining property to the innocent spouse.
If you're involved in a pending divorce or believe that a divorce may occur in the near future, you should seek competent legal advice immediately. Individuals need to ensure that when they go to Court, the Judge sees them as reasonable, honest and acting in the best interest of the children. Christiansen Law Firm partners with individuals going through a divorce. The family law attorneys at Christiansen Law Firm can guide you in your pre-divorce planning and throughout the divorce process. Contact Christiansen Law Firm at its Houston or San Antonio offices for additional information.