Custody issues are often the most important to parents engaged in divorce, because nothing is more important than a child’s well-being. In Minnesota, custody determinations made by the courts are made based on the child’s best interest. Naturally, both parents want what’s best for their child, but they might not agree on what exactly is best. There are some common mistakes that people make that could lose a custody case in court.

One common mistake is discussing the case too much with your child. Especially with older children, say teenagers, you might think it’s important to keep the child updated on what’s going on. You might even believe the child has a right to know what’s causing the separation or divorce. But a court could interpret this as an attempt to undermine the relationship between the child and the other parent, putting the child in the middle of the dispute. For a diyvorce, ideally you and your spouse are working through this together, without too much rancor. But if the case somehow lands in court, both parents need to protect their custody rights. It is very important to encourage your child to be happy with and love the other parent.

If there is any kind of court order regarding custody, be sure you follow it. In some cases there will is a temporary custody order that tells the parents how to handle custody and parenting time until the divorce is final. Because child custody is so fraught with powerful emotions, people can be tempted to violate the court order. Maybe you think it’s unfair. Maybe you think your spouse is unreasonable. After all, it’s your child: is a little extra time so much to ask?

Whatever the reason, do not take matters into your own hands if there is any kind of standing parenting time order. Such violations not only expose you to being found in contempt, but a judge is not likely to award custody to a parent who has demonstrated an unwillingness to abide by a standing order. Again, for a diyvorce this is a worst-case scenario—hopefully you and your spouse are amiably working out parenting time and custody issues.

Finally, being angry or unreasonable with your spouse can impact a custody case. This applies to all aspects of a divorce, really, but custody and parenting time can be very emotionally charged. The calmer you can remain, the easier time you’ll have. Yelling, insults or foul language, or mean-spirited comments can (OK, often do!) feel good in the moment, but in the long run, they make agreement harder. And if the case goes to court, the court might take such actions as signs that you are unwilling or unable to work with that other parent, an important factor when determining custody and parenting time.

If you have questions about your case, contact us for help.

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