7 Common Mistakes to Avoid during a Child Custody Case

Over one-quarter of children in the U.S. live with one parent, while their other parent lives in another home. This shows how prevalent divorce and child custody cases are.

If you’re a parent finding yourself in the middle of a child custody case, you may be confused about your parental rights and the uncertainty of the outcome. However, there are several things you can do to increase your chances of gaining and retaining custody or shared custody of your children.

Here’s a list of seven of the most common mistakes parents make when facing a child custody case.

To learn more about child custody and CPS when addiction is involved, click here.  

1. Don’t Badmouth Your Ex to Your Child

It isn’t fair to use your children as a pawn or to create negativity in their minds about your ex. After all, your former partner is still your child’s other parent. Your children deserve the right to form their own opinions about their parents as they grow.

Put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself how you’d feel if you were spending time with each parent and hearing bad things about one of them. It would make you feel confused and stressed, two emotions that your child does not need nor deserve during this lifestyle adjustment.

Resist the temptation to speak of your ex in a negative light when your child is present. If you must, confide privately with a friend or family member without your child being there.

2. Don’t Repeatedly Cancel Visits

Being repeatedly late for picking up your children for visits or having to constantly cancel or reschedule visitations does damage in two ways.

First, it really hurts your child. They will feel that they’re no longer a priority in your life and that you don’t care enough to follow through on spending time with them.

Children need to know they’re still loved and valued by both parents after the relationship ends. One of the best ways of giving them this assurance is to be there for them when you say you will.

Second, this behavior will make you look bad in your ex’s eyes and in the court. It will make the court think you’re not serious about making a commitment to child custody. Your ex can make a record of repeat cancellations and no-shows and use it against you in a court of law.

3. Don’t Disrespect the Court

Always respect court officials and what is asked of you. If you are ordered to take a parenting class or get help for a substance abuse problem, do it. If you are issued a temporary order, you must obey it.

Wear professional clothing when attending court and respect the judge and other court officials. Dressing appropriately shows that you take the child custody hearing seriously, and this small action will help you make a positive impression.

Never lie to the court or your lawyer. The truth always comes out eventually, and it can hurt your parental rights.

4. Don’t Be Anything Other Than a Great Parent

You don’t stop being a parent just because you’re no longer living with the mother or father of your child. So while you no longer have your partner with you, that doesn’t mean you can skimp on raising your child properly.

Be a good parent by creating a safe environment for your child when they’re with you. Any firearms that you own should be securely locked up. Any films you watch with your children should be family movies or age appropriate for them.

You don’t want to leave your children unsupervised or enforce corporal punishment. This information will get back to your ex, and it could get blown out of proportion into a domestic violence issue.

Make sure they have plenty of nourishing, healthy food to eat, and a comfortable place to sleep. Don’t abuse alcohol or take drugs. It may sound like common sense, but you always want to present yourself as the best parent you can possibly be.

5. Don’t Neglect to Pay Child Support

Don’t neglect or forget to pay child support to your ex. They can use this information against you, and you could lose visitation rights.

If you find yourself with a financial hardship whether from a job loss or emergency, do let the judge know. File a motion to make the court aware, and you may receive permission to reduce your child support until you have the funds again.

6. Don’t Take the Kids on a Trip without Letting Your Ex Know

Taking your child on a trip without your ex’s permission can quickly look like a kidnapping situation.

Always ask your ex if you can take your child on a vacation. Provide them with all of the information they need to know, such as contact info for the hotel, flight numbers, and departure and arrival times.

Doing so shows that you can be trusted by both your ex and the court.

7. Don’t Lose Your Cool

Although emotions run high in times of divorce and figuring out child custody rights, try not to get angry with your ex, especially in front of your kids. It’s especially important to avoid any kind of physical contact as that will not help your case and can turn it into a domestic violence incident.

Take a deep breathe and leave the room during a heated argument if you have to. Never threaten your ex and always try to keep the environment as calm as possible.

Winning Your Child Custody Case

Avoiding these seven child custody case mistakes will put you in good standing with the court and help you work out an agreement with your ex sooner rather than later.

If you find yourself facing a child custody case, you need a family attorney who cares about you and your parental rights. Start by conducting a search for family attorneys near you.

What Happens If You Commit Perjury in Family Court?

Perjury is the act of lying under oath.

And we all know from 5th grade civics class that this is a crime in and of itself.

But, unfortunately, it’s incredibly common in family court, as well as court in general. It’s supposed to be punishable as a criminal act, and in a perfect world, all people who commit perjury would face consequences.

Reality is far from perfect.

So what really happens when someone commits perjury in family court? Read on to find out more about what the consequences typically involve.

Perjury in Family Court

Family court typically involves parties who are going through a divorce or who are seeking custody of children.

In some cases, these conflicts can extend for the majority of the children’s lives and can become quite nasty.

Therefore, it isn’t uncommon for people to lie in family court. They may lie about things like abuse, paying for child support or other things that blatantly aren’t true.

The goal for both parties in family court is often to gain custody of the children. In some cases, the goal is the illicit a higher child support payment, or have the child support payment lowered.

While both parties sign witness statements under the penalty of perjury, unfortunately, it doesn’t really mean much to the court of law. The cases are often “he said,” “she said,” and need to be arbitrated based on who has the “best story” or which lawyer is the most skilled at ensuring his or her client gets what they’re asking for.

Because of this fact, it can be difficult to prove someone is lying under oath unless one party has clear and solid evidence. This may include emails, text messages or videos of the other party committing the act they allege. Otherwise, the situation is, unfortunately, one person’s word against the other.

What Constitutes Perjury in Family Court?

Perjury in family court can be committed in a number of ways. In addition to lying about abuse or child support, it may include things like lying about where a child resides, lying about the current custody schedule, falsely alleging the other partner prevents a parent from seeing a child, hiding paychecks, hiding documents or falsely stating that a parent is uninterested in being in the child’s life.

In extreme cases, this may also include forging letters or documents and presenting them to the court as authentic.

What is the Penalty for Perjury?

The penalty for perjury is very clearly outlined in most states. Federal law states that perjury can be punished with up to five years in prison in addition to fines and probation.

If someone commits perjury in family court, this creates an entirely separate case. While committing blatant perjury can affect the outcome of the case, the person who did commit perjury won’t be prosecuted as part of the family law case.

Instead, a different case will need pursuing to ensure the person is properly punished for the perjury. This case will be for the crime of perjury alone.

But while the federal law states that perjury is punishable with up to five years in prison and a fine, perjury in family courts rarely amounts to punishment.

This is partially because of the nature of the case, and the fact that most people cannot unequivocally prove that the other party committed perjury.

Another reason why it is not often pursued is due to the fact that most court systems are already overloaded. They’re typically not interested in working with someone who may have committed perjury or prosecuting them. This is most often because they have what they perceive as more serious crimes to deal with.

While someone can start up an investigation into perjury in family court, most lawyers say they’ve never actually seen that occur.

Instead, the person who committed perjury most often gets away scot-free.

Sometimes, a judge will pursue a perjurer for contempt of court. This is typical if the lying is easily provable, and the person has committed another form of attempting to obstruct justice. Again, this isn’t very common.

More often, lawyers who knowingly commit perjury are indicted for their crime. This is much more common than a plaintiff or defendant receiving a punishment.

What to Do If You Catch Your Ex Lying in Family Court

If you’re currently in a potential custody situation, the best thing to do is to immediately get a lawyer. He or she is the best person to help you navigate the situation and can give you the best legal advice based on your personal circumstances.

You should also document everything you can in order to show the court. This can include text message conversations, emails, videotaping abuse and other such evidence. While it may not be easy to prove that the other party is lying, when you have a body of evidence, the court is more inclined to take your word more seriously.

Family Courtroom Drama

Unfortunately, family court can be a messy affair. And perjury in family court is a growing and serious issue that plagues our court system. The fact that very few people have been prosecuted for committing perjury in family court makes it all the more frustrating for those who are genuinely interested in the welfare of their children.

If you are facing a custody issue or think your case may be headed to family court, contact us today. We can advise you on the next steps to take.