A child custody case can be one of the most stressful times in a person's life. Nothing is more personal and significant to most than their children. When parents are litigating over their rights to their children, the pressure and stress of the case can often make normally rational and reasonable people act otherwise. However, when a parent acts in a way that the court deems harmful to the child the subject of the suit, then that parent will have damaged their standing before the court and the likelihood that they will be successful in their custody case.
Below is a list of conduct that parents in a child custody case should avoid. Keep in mind that this list does not cover every type of conduct a parent should avoid in a child custody case. The common thread through this list is that these actions harm the child and are looked upon badly by most family court judges in Texas.
Do Not Disobey the Court's Orders
Parents should not intentionally disobey an order of the court. Remember, the Court is the final decision maker on what happens to the child. Failing to follow the Court's orders shows disrespect to the Court and an unwillingness to do what the Court believes is in the child's best interest.
Do Not withhold Child Support for Visitation
Often parents feel that if they are being denied visitation with their child, then they are justified in not paying child support to the other parent. This is absolutely wrong. In standard custody orders, a parent's obligation to pay child support is never contingent on the other parent following the visitation schedule. If one parent is denying visitation, the other parent's proper course of action is to seek enforcement of visitation.
Do Not withhold Visitation for Child Support
When a parent isn't receiving court ordered child support from the other parent, the non-receiving parent may feel justified or seek to punish the other parent by withholding visitation with the child. This is wrong. This behavior generally harms not only the other parent, but also the child. The proper remedy for non-payment of child support is to seek enforcement.
Do Not Miss Scheduled Visitations
If a parent continually fails to exercise their visitation time with their child, the Court may see this conduct as proof that the parent does not really value their relationship with their child.
Do Not Bad Mouth the Other Parent to the Child
Most court orders prohibit this type of conduct. Regardless of whether a court order prohibits it or not, bad mouthing the other parent to the child is generally harmful to the child.
Do Not Use the Child as a Go Between
Using the child as a messenger between the parents places a lot of stress on the child. It is not appropriate, and it shouldn't be necessary. If a parent feels uncomfortable or unsafe communicating with the other parent, they can seek court orders that make the communication process more workable, including communicating through co-parenting software.
Do Not Discuss the Case with the Child
It can be tempting for a parent to vent to their child about the custody case. The parent may think doing so will make the child take sides. However, children do not need to and should not know about the goings on of the custody case affecting them.
Do Not Be Disrespectful and Vulgar
Whether in the day to day or in Court, parents should always remain polite and use respectful language when dealing with the other parent and anyone else related to the custody case. This can be incredibly challenging considering how emotionally stressful custody cases can be. However, what a parent says, whether oral or written, can be used in court. In family law cases, it matters if the Court believes one parent is respectful and courteous and the other parent is not.