Do's & Don'ts For Winning Child Custody

Sep 1, 2021 by David J Rozas

Do's & Don'ts For Winning Child Custody
How to get child custody in Louisiana
DISCLAIMER:  Each situation is unique, and while the following information can be helpful, IT IS NOT INTENDED AS LEGAL ADVICE.  Our team at Rozas & Associates will be more than happy to set up a free consultation to discuss the specific circumstances of your situation.

Note: There is a legal presumption in Louisiana Law that begins every custody dispute in the position that Joint Legal Custody and Shared (Equal) Physical custody is in the best interest of the child. The Court starts its analysis there, and the parent that is attempting to modify from that arrangement must carry the burden of proving why. It is also equally important to recognize that the legal standard for that modification is determining what is in THE BEST INTERESTS OF THE CHILD, not the parent.

With that being said, going through a custody battle is anything but easy.  It can be stressful, overwhelming, and emotionally draining to say the least.  These do's and don'ts will help you present yourself to the court in the best light and give you an advantage in managing your child custody case.

What Not to Do

Winning sole custody of your children when you and your ex separate or divorce is not an easy task, especially because most courts prefer some type of shared or joint custody. But more often than not, parents can sabotage their chances of being awarded full custody if they are not careful. The court is only concerned with the best interests of the child or children, so be mindful of whether or not a certain text or conversation with the other parent is truly and solely in the best interests of the children.

Here is an overview of things you should try to avoid doing while navigating your custody case.

1. Talk Negatively About Your Ex

As hard as it might be, do not talk negatively about your ex—especially to or in front of your children. Instead, try to keep your opinions and feelings about your ex to yourself. Even if your child asks you difficult questions, try to keep it as positive as you can. While you need to be honest, you must try to avoid bashing your ex in the process. Vent your frustrations to a trusted friend or family member instead.

2. Arrive Late for Visits or Pickups

Little things like showing up late can be used to create a negative impression of your commitment as a parent. For this reason, you need to be on time when you have to pick up your children or have a scheduled visit with them. Arriving on time also communicates to your children that they are the top priority.

3. Reschedule Your Time With the Kids

If you want to win sole or full custody, don't make a habit of rescheduling time with your child(ren). Constantly rescheduling your parenting time could make it appear to the court that you're just filing for custody out of spite for your ex — not because you really want custody.

Make sure you're there when you say you will be so that your ex can't present a documented pattern to the court that reflects negatively on you.

4. Misuse Alcohol or Drugs

Don't misuse alcohol or drugs, especially when you're with your child(ren). Aside from providing more ammunition for your ex, making poor choices only ends up hurting your child(ren) in the process.

Make sure there's not even the suggestion that you're doing anything that would remotely put your child(ren) at risk while they’re in your care. Being a good parent involves making good choices each and every day, while striving to protect the overall well-being of your children.

5. Refuse to Follow Court's Requests

If you want to win custody, it's important to honor each and every request the court makes of you. This is your time to show the court how committed you are as a parent. So if they require you to take parenting classes or seek therapy and/or counseling, do so and begin immediately.

View the court's requests as an opportunity to demonstrate just how far you're willing to go for your child(ren).

6. Invent Negative Stories

When attempting to win custody, do not try to come up with unfounded allegations of abuse or exaggerate your ex's shortcomings in order to win in the eyes of the court. Any lies you present will most likely come back and be used against you. Make sure everything you share is factual and can be substantiated.

What to Do

When it comes to winning custody, you need to make sure that you demonstrate a willingness to work with your ex while also demonstrating that your child(ren) would benefit from you having full custody. Here is a brief overview of the things that will vastly improve your chances of achieving the outcome you desire when it comes to custody.

1. Work With Your Ex

When trying to win custody, it's important to show a willingness to work with your ex, regardless of the state of your relationship. Some parents have actually lost custody because of their demonstrated unwillingness to collaborate with the other parent.
So remember that while you may not like your ex, they are a part of your children’s lives, and you need to show the family court that you're willing to work together for the benefit of your child(ren).

2. Exercise Your Parental Rights

Make sure you exercise your parental rights especially if you've been granted visitation with your kids. Spend as much time with them as you can, and make sure that you're doing regular, everyday things—including homework and even chores -- and not just the fun things like movies, bowling, parks, and dinners out. Demonstrate that you are willing to do the less than glamorous aspects of parenting as well.

3. Request an In-Home Custody Evaluation

If you're concerned that your ex will try to present a negative impression of your home life, request an in-home custody evaluation.  This visit can be extremely helpful in your quest for custody - especially if things go well. Regardless, it's always helpful to have a neutral party evaluate your living situation and your parenting skills and make an unbiased report to the court.

4. Recognize that Perception Is Everything

One of the hardest things to grasp in a custody battle is the fact that it doesn't really matter if what is being said about you is actually true or not; what matters is whether the family court judge believes these things are true. Do everything you can to present yourself to the court as a competent, involved, and loving parent.

This includes arriving on time, dressing appropriately, and demonstrating proper courtroom etiquette in front of the judge. Remember, again - perception is everything.

5. Educate Yourself About Family Law

Read up on the child custody laws in Louisiana so that you will know in advance what to expect. For instance - most of the time, each parent typically has an equal right to the custody of the children when they separate.

Consequently, courts often award joint custody when both parents are able to perform their parenting duties equally. However, if one of the parents wants sole custody they must be able to demonstrate why joint custody is not in the child’s best interest.

6. Keep Documentation

In situations where you honestly believe your children would be unsafe with the other parent — for example, because your ex has a history of domestic abuse or substance abuse issues — you should carefully document your interactions with your ex, as well as their interactions with your children. Be aware, though, that the other parent may feel the same way about you and may be preparing similar documentation for the courts.

7. Find an Experienced Child Custody Lawyer

Lastly, even if you don't think you can afford a custody lawyer, call Rozas and Associates today to set up a free consultation to discuss your case and explore your options.  One of our experienced family law attorneys will evaluate your case and help you make rational decisions during this emotionally turbulent time for you and family.

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