Things That Can Cause You To Lose A Custody Battle In Illinois
When parents divorce, and children are involved, they must arrive at a child custody agreement. These matters involve who will make significant life decisions for the child (legal custody) and how they will divide parenting time (physical custody). However, this issue is often one of the most challenging in divorce because most parents want to be with their children as much as possible.
If you are in a child custody dispute, there are things you can do to damage your case, described below. If you need help with child custody issues, our child custody lawyers in Schaumburg at Law Office of Fedor Kozlov, P.C. can help.
Table of Contents
Definitions Of Joint Custody And Legal Custody
Joint custody of the children may be awarded when the parents can agree on issues involving the kids. Joint custody means both parties will share the making of significant decisions for the children involving education, religious upbringing, and healthcare.
If the judge awards joint custody, both parents sign a Joint Parenting Agreement detailing where the child will live and each party’s rights and responsibilities. This agreement also contains details about how to resolve disputes over making parenting decisions.
If one of the parents is unsuitable for making decisions that affect the child, or the parties cannot work together effectively for the child’s best interests, sole custody may be awarded. If you get sole custody, you have the major decision-making abilities regarding your child, and they live primarily with you.
However, getting sole custody does not mean your ex cannot visit the child, and joint custody does not necessarily mean 50/50 parenting time. The time each parent physically spends with the child depends on the visitation schedule agreed to or the judge’s orders. In some cases, the visitation schedule could have virtually equal parenting time. Or the schedule could dictate that one parent spends more time with the child than the other.
Mediation Does Not Work
If the parents cannot resolve a child custody dispute, the judge may order mediation. If mediation is ineffective, the judge could simply appoint a guardian ad litem when the parties cannot reach a child custody agreement.
If mediation fails, this is a red flag for the judge because the parents should be able to suss out at least a partial agreement in the child’s best interests. It shows that parents cannot work together for their child’s benefit if they cannot. The judge will not award joint custody when the parents cannot work together, and figuring out who will get custody will become more time-consuming and expensive.
Not Paying Attention To Court Orders
Do you hate the thought of your ex-partner spending time with the other parent? This is understandable, but if the judge has signed a parenting time order, both parties must follow it or face contempt of court charges. Also, if the judge issues an order limiting your visitation rights, you must do what it says. The best way to prove you are untrustworthy is to violate a court order.
Trying To Argue The Other Parent Is Bad
Family court judges in Illinois have seen almost everything in child custody disputes, so they know that one parent could make untrue allegations to sway custody decisions. If you think the other parent is not fit to have custody or even visitation, you must provide strong evidence in court; your word is insufficient.
The worst thing you can do in a child custody fight is to lose your temper in front of the judge, call the other person names, or send nasty texts or voicemails to your ex. These actions suggest the allegations are because of your personal bias against the parent. It also is unhelpful to make negative social media posts about your ex-spouse.
Using Your Kids To Get Back At Your Ex-Spouse
Unless the children are very small, they probably know a child custody dispute is ongoing; they often are more perceptive than we credit them for. However, never discuss the child custody matter with them other than to relate vital, factual information. Never say anything bad about the other parent to your ex; do not tell your kids what to say in court. You are more likely to win your custody dispute if you protect your children from conflict with your ex.
One Parent Is Too Difficult
One parent can lose custody because they are so complex and uncooperative. Some parents may be ordered to sign up for a parenting app to work with their ex but still cannot communicate effectively. The judge could order the use of a parenting app so there is a written record of all communications, and the court will review the transcripts. Even though both parties know the judge will review their interactions, some parents cannot avoid being difficult.
This holds true as well if you communicate with the other party in texts and emails. Writing any message to your ex as if the judge would read it is advised. If you show you are too difficult to work with in printed form, the court will probably not try to get you to work with the other party in a custody arrangement. Also, if you want to have most of the parental responsibilities and cannot communicate with the other party, it only hurts your cause. Remember, you must be able to notify the other parent regarding essential decisions you made for the child’s benefit.
Being An Unfit Parent
Another way to lose a child custody dispute is to be an unfit parent in the eyes of the court. If you want to prove that the other parent is unfit, you will need substantial evidence of the actions that make them unfit. For example, if you can prove one or more of the following, the parent could be considered unfit in a child custody disagreement:
- The child was abandoned.
- There was repeated and extreme cruelty to the child.
- The child was continuously neglected.
- There was a lack of concern or interest in the child’s welfare.
- There was a conviction for a major crime, such as sexual assault or murder.
- Addiction to drugs or alcohol.
- The child had drugs in their system.
- Mental illness or impairment that prevents caring for the child.
Substantial evidence is needed to prove that the other parent is unfit. If you believe this is the case, you should retain an experienced child custody attorney. Some evidence that could be used to prove someone is unfit are medical documents, police reports, criminal records, and videos or photos that document abuse and neglect. While it can be hard to know what will convince a judge, your attorney can provide advice on this important matter.
If There Is Shared Custody, Do I Still Pay Child Support?
Child support decisions depend on each parent’s finances and the child’s best interests. It is possible that one of the parents could have a child support obligation regardless of any custody agreement. If one parent is behind on child support payments, this does not mean that the parent cannot have visitation. If you withhold visitation rights in this situation, the judge may find you in contempt of court.
Can The Wishes Of The Child Be A Factor In Child Custody?
Young children have strong opinions about many things but often lack the perspective or maturity to decide about something as complex as who they will live with most of the time. In most cases, a young child will tend to choose the most lenient and relaxed parent when disciplining them.
As the child ages, they can better understand which parent they want to live with based on more logical terms. That is why the older the child is, the more seriously the family court judge will consider their preferences for who gets custody. But, of course, the age differs for every child. The judge in your dispute might want to interview the child privately to get a handle on their emotional intelligence and maturity and to learn why they might prefer one parent over the other.
However, judges are used to parents who try to coach the kids on what to say to get an edge on the child custody decision. They have seen this happen countless times and know how to determine if a child is being influenced by one of the parents.
To summarize, there are many things you can do that hurt your ability to win custody or the level of parental responsibility you desire. Do your best to work effectively with the other parent to work out a child custody arrangement that benefits you and your child.
Contact Our Child Custody Lawyers In Schaumburg Now
If you are in a child custody dispute, there are many things you can do that make it harder to win. But one thing in your favor is having an excellent attorney fighting for your rights. So contact our child custody lawyers in Schaumburg at Law Office of Fedor Kozlov, P.C. today for legal assistance by calling (847) 241-1299.