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Avoid These Mistakes to Keep Custody

Wouldn’t it be nice to know what judges consider bad behavior by a parent in a child custody case and could cause them to lose custody of their child?

Unfortunately  . . . every judge is different and every child custody case is different.

We can tell you that almost every day we have parents ask us “if I do X, will I lose custody?”

Whatever “X” is…chances are that if you have to ask your custody lawyer whether or not you should do it, it is probably a bad idea and is likely to affect your custody case.

We’ve handled thousands of custody cases and can tell that universally there are a number of things parents do that judges hate that absolutely affect whether or not the parent will get physical custody of the kids.

In this article, we address the top 7 things you might be doing that could cause a mother loss of custody.

And . . .

Some of these things you might not even realize could make you lose custody of your kids.

Avoid These Mistakes to Keep Custody

Interrogating Your Kids Could Make You Lose Custody

Almost every day we receive messages from our clients reporting the horrible things their ex is doing with the children.

Recently, we received a call from a concerned client stating that mom is telling the kids “dad is going to lose custody” that dad “is terrible” and that dad is “going to get what’s coming to him.”
 
Of course, these statements were very upsetting to our client and he insisted that we take immediate action to stop mom from making these statements.
 
We dug a little deeper . . .
 
And started asking questions like “how do you know mom is making these statements?”
 
It turned out that dad was interrogating his children about what mom was saying and what was happening at mom’s home after every single visit.
 
Needless to say . . .
 
We had to explain to our client that unless he could prove these statements were being made by mom (and not because the kids were saying so), he would lose any motions we filed to get mom to stop.
 
In addition, there is no question that the judge’s first question would be “how do you know she’s making these statements?”
 
And . . .
 
When dad responds “because my kids keep telling me,” chances are the judge is going to know dad is interrogating his kids and dad could actually risk losing the time he has with his children.
 
The bottom line . . .
 
Ask your kids how their time with the ex was.
 
Ask them about the fun things they did or the adventures they had.
 
But don’t interrogate them!
 
Your kids love you both and if your kids feel like they are being drilled on what was said at your ex’s home, they might even be likely to make things up.
 
Encourage your kids to have a good relationship with your ex and if the kids report something negative, ask your ex about it (not the kids) before you run off to Court and get the judge involved.
 
If the judge believes that you are interrogating your kids, a term often referred to as polarization, you could lose physical custody.

Let Your Kids Read Your Custody Paperwork

In Nevada, our courts have specific rules that tell parents they cannot talk to their kids about their custody litigation and certainly cannot share court paperwork with their children.
 
Despite these rules, every once in a while we have a parent who confesses that they have fully explained every detail of their custody to their children because “they don’t want to lie to the kids” or “they want the kids to know what’s going on.”
 
Or some other lame excuse for putting the kids in the middle of their custody dispute.
 
Bad…Bad…Bad!
 
The kids are just that! Kids.
 
And, they shouldn’t be informed about the details of your custody case.
 
If a child reports that the parent is having them read court paperwork, that parent will be admonished by the judge and will stand a very good chance of losing custody.
 
Simply, DO NOT, under any circumstances, allow your children to read the paperwork filed in your custody case.
 
Keep your kids out of it.

Talk Badly About Your Ex to the Kids

We know that it is difficult to talk positively about your ex.
 
Of course…it’s your ex and if things were perfect, you two would probably still be together. Right?
 
However, judges will consider talking badly about your ex part of the “polarization” process.
 
If a judge believes you are polarizing your kids by making repeated disparaging remarks about your ex, chances are that you could lose custody of your kids.
 
Even though Parental Alienation and Polarization are viewed rather skeptically by most psychologists, judges still believe in these concepts.
 
And . . .
 
This is often a dream strategy for your ex!
 
If you are repeating terrible comments to the kids about your ex you should expect your ex to roll into court and tell the judge “see judge the reason I haven’t been seeing my kids regularly is that my ex is alienating the kids by talking so terribly about me that the kids don’t want to see me.”
 
The bottom line .  . .Keep your thoughts to yourself.
 
Kids are smart. They will develop their own relationship with your ex, for better or worse.
 
Allow your children to decide for themselves without your negative comments and you should be able to keep custody of your kids.

Make Major Medical Decisions for Your Children Without Including the Other Parent

In most Nevada child custody cases, parents are awarded joint legal custody.
 
This means that decisions regarding medical treatment for your kids must be made by BOTH parents.
 
So it should come as no surprise that one of the fastest ways to lose custody of your kids is to make major medical decisions for your children without consulting your ex.
 
For example, we recently had a client tell us that his wife had braces put on their 13 year old without being notified.
 
He was not asked to meet with the orthodontist. He was not informed that the child needed braces. And…he was not consulted about the cost for braces.
 
Instead, his ex simply told him that the 13 year now had braces and he owed half the bill. That’s right, he now owed $3,000 for a major medical decision involving his child over which he had no information, no say-so and no consultation.
 
When he went to court to fight the $3,000 bill, the custody judge told mom that if she continued to obtain major medical care for the child without notifying dad, she would lose custody.
 
That’s right!
 
The judge told her that by not consulting dad and obtaining his input, she was violating the joint legal custody provisions of their custody decree and she was interfering in dad’s relationship with the child.
 
The lesson here?
 
Notify your ex of major decisions involving the kids.
 
Don’t make decisions unilaterally.
 
If you don’t keep your ex informed, you should expect your decisions to ultimately affect your custodial time.

Make Major Educational Decisions for Your Children Without Including the Other Parent

Just like medical decisions are part of joint legal custody, education decisions are part of joint legal custody. Again, this means that decisions affecting your child’s schooling and education must be agreed on by both parents.
 
What does this mean for you?
 
You cant take your child out of one school and enroll him in another school without the agreement of your ex.
 
If your child is struggling in school or having behavior problems at school, you need to inform your ex.
 
When your child has parent/teacher conferences, school-related activities and extra-curricular performances at school, you need to keep your ex up to date.
 
Failing to notify of your ex of your child’s performance, attendance, and progress at school could result in you losing physical custody.
 
Taking your child out of one school and enrolling your child in another school without the agreement of your ex, could result in you losing custody.
 
Notify your ex of major decisions involving the kids.
 
Don’t make decisions unilaterally.

Let Your Kids Decide When to Have Visitation with Your Ex

This happens all of the time.
 
We meet with a client who tells us that there is a custodial agreement in place, but that the child cries, has breakdowns and reports that the child does not want to spend time with their ex.
 
As a result . . . the parent lets the child decide when to have visitation with their ex.
 
While this may seem like the right thing to do, letting your child decide the visitation schedule could result in you losing physical custody.
 
Allowing your child to decide on visitation with your ex makes it look like you have no parenting skills and cannot parent your child.
 
The judge will also thing that you are putting the child in the middle of your problems with your ex by making your child to choose which parent to spend time with.
 
Visitation is an adult problem and children should not decide.
 
Simply put, there is a court order that dictates you and your ex’s visitation with the child.
 
If both parents agree to let the child decide, that agreement should be in writing and filed with the Court.
 
Otherwise, if you want your child to decide visitation or if the visitation is causing your child anxiety and stress, you MUST go to court and ask the judge to change the visitation schedule.
 
Failing to get Court permission to allow child discretion could result in you losing custody.

Allow No Flexibility in Your Custody Schedule

On the other extreme of allowing the child to choose visitation, is allowing no flexibility in the custodial schedule.
 
Let’s face it .  . .
 
Life happens and life events aren’t always predictable.
 
Kids get sick, they have extra-curricular events, parents might have to stay late at work or a hundred million other reasons that a strict schedule cannot be followed.
 
You must allow for some flexibility in the custodial schedule.
 
For example . . .
 
We recently went to trial on a case where dad was claiming mom allowed no flexibility in the schedule.
 
The parties were meeting at a mall for exchanges.
 
Dad would text mom that he was running late due to a mechanical problem with his car.
 
Mom’s response would be “sorry. You missed the time in our court papers to do the exchange, so you don’t get to see your son this week.”
 
Dad was late to the exchange by 5 minutes but missed seeing his son for an entire week because mom refused to allow any flexibility in the schedule.
 
Needless to say . . . .
 
The judge was not happy and admonished mom that if this behavior continued, she would lose custody.
 
Now, we aren’t saying that if a parent is consistently late or missing visits, there shouldn’t be some accountability to stick to the schedule, but parents need to consider the circumstances.

Be Flexible With Your Ex as Much as Possible

If schedules need to be changed, then work together to change the schedule.
 
However, imposing strict time limits in visitation is often unrealistic, and requiring 100% adherence to the schedule could result in you losing custody rights.
 
We hope you found this article helpful. Leave a comment below to let us know about your custody case or any child custody questions you might have for a child custody attorney.
 
If you or someone you know needs assistance with a custody case or if you are worried about losing custody, fill out our on-line form or call us at (702) 433-2889. We can help.
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Conclusion

In summary, parents should avoid several vital mistakes in child custody cases that could lead to losing custody.

Some significant pitfalls are interrogating kids, sharing court documents, bashing the other parent, and making effective decisions without consultation.

Allowing kids to dictate the visitation schedule or refusing flexibility is also risky. The best approach is to co-parent cooperatively, keep kids out of adult issues, and demonstrate sound parenting skills.

With legal guidance, parents can navigate custody disputes while protecting their children’s wellbeing and best interests.

The stakes are high in custody battles, but insight into judicial considerations helps inform intelligent choices.

Ask an Attorney

Our lead attorney, Molly Rosenblum, Esq answers tough legal questions in these videos.

Does the Court Consider Domestic Violence in a Custody Case?

Can a Child Have a Say in Custody Decisions

Does a Parent's Sexual Orientation Affect Child Custody in Nevada?

What is a Parenting Plan?

Can Substance Abuse Affect Your Custody Case?

faq

Frequently Asked Questions

What critical mistakes can lead to losing child custody?

Interrogating children, sharing court documents with kids, bashing the other parent, making major medical/education decisions without consultation, allowing children to dictate the visitation schedule, and refusing any flexibility in the schedule are some significant mistakes that can contribute to losing custody.

Why is interrogating children a problem in custody cases?

Judges frown upon excessive interrogation of children, as it forces them in the middle of custody disputes. It can also lead children to fabricate information. Let kids share voluntarily vs. grilling them after visits.

Can I share custody paperwork and details with my child?

No, sharing custody litigation details and documents with children is considered inappropriate. This inappropriately involves kids in adult matters.

How does badmouthing my ex to my child impact custody?

Disparaging the other parent is seen as “poisoning” the child against them. Judges view this as unhealthy, and it may be characterized as parental alienation, potentially leading to loss of custody.

Should I consult my ex for major medical/education decisions?

Yes, for joint legal custody, both parents must be consulted and in agreement on major medical procedures, school changes, etc. Unilateral action can be grounds for losing custody.

Can I let my child decide when to visit the other parent?

No, follow the court-ordered visitation schedule. Allowing children to dictate the schedule shows a lack of parenting and puts them in the middle. Get court approval for changes.

How much visitation schedule flexibility is reasonable?

Some flexibility is expected for things like illnesses or work conflicts. But be careful of too much deviation from the schedule without mutual agreement and get court approval when needed—document issues.

What’s the best approach to avoid losing custody?

Keep kids out of adult matters, co-parent cooperatively, demonstrate sound parenting skills, don’t disparage the other parent, consult on significant decisions, follow the visitation schedule, and document issues/concerns appropriately.

When should I contact a child custody lawyer?

If you have concerns about possibly losing custody or want legal guidance on protecting your rights in a custody dispute, contact a qualified custody lawyer immediately for assistance.

glossary

Glossary

Child custody: The legal guardianship over a minor child, including physical custody (where the child lives) and legal custody (ability to make decisions about the child’s health, education, etc.).

Physical custody: The right to have a child live with you and be responsible for day-to-day care. Sole or primary physical custody means the child lives primarily with one parent. Joint physical custody means shared living arrangements.

Legal custody: The right to make important decisions about a child’s welfare, including medical treatments, schooling, religious upbringing, etc. Sole legal custody gives one parent exclusive rights. Joint legal custody requires both parents to agree.

Interrogating: Aggressively questioning a child, often repeatedly, to obtain information. This is frowned upon by judges in custody cases.

Polarization: Manipulating or pressuring a child to choose sides between parents during a custody dispute. This is considered emotional abuse.

Parental alienation: When one parent persistently disparages or criticizes the other parent to the child to damage or strain their relationship. Often claimed in custody disputes.

Court order: A legally binding document issued by a judge detailing obligations or rights, such as a custody order specifying visitation rights.

Visitation schedule: The court-ordered schedule specifying when each parent has custodial rights with a child, such as weekends, holidays, etc.

Joint legal custody: Where both parents have an equal right to make important decisions about the child’s welfare, education, medical treatments, religious upbringing, etc. Requires mutual agreement.

Unilateral decision: Making an important decision about a child without consulting or gaining the agreement of the other parent who shares legal custody. This can lead to losing custody.

Mediation: A process where parents meet with a court-appointed mediator to mutually attempt to agree on a custody arrangement before going to trial.

Custody dispute: When parents cannot agree on a custody arrangement for a child and take the matter before a judge for resolution through court proceedings.

Custody trial: When parents engage in litigation and go before a family court judge who hears arguments and evidence before deciding on custody.

More Resources for You

Additional Resources for You

Don’t forget to check out our other informative posts as well:

  1. Do You Have Child Custody Questions? – This post addresses common questions and concerns related to child custody, providing helpful information and guidance.
  2. What are the 5 Types of Custody? – This post explores the different types of custody arrangements that are typically considered in child custody cases, providing readers with a comprehensive understanding of their options.
  3. How Do You Get Full Custody of a Child – This post delves into the process and factors involved in seeking full custody of a child, offering insights and strategies for those aiming to obtain sole custody.
  4. How Do You Win a Custody Battle in Nevada? – This post specifically focuses on winning a custody battle in Nevada, providing tips, tactics, and important considerations to increase your chances of a favorable outcome.
  5. How Much is a Custody Lawyer? – This post discusses the potential costs associated with hiring a custody lawyer, providing insights into the financial aspects involved in securing legal representation.
  6. Reasons a Mother Can Lose Custody in Las Vegas – This post highlights common factors and situations that may lead to a mother losing custody in Las Vegas or similar jurisdictions, helping mothers understand potential pitfalls to avoid.
  7. What Not To Say In Child Custody Mediation – This post offers valuable advice on what to avoid saying during child custody mediation, helping individuals navigate the process effectively and ensure their best interests are represented.
  8. What Happens At First Custody Hearings In Nevada – This post provides an overview of what typically occurs during the initial custody hearings in Nevada, giving readers an idea of what to expect and how to prepare.
  9. The Mediation Advantage: Cost-Effective Mediation For Divorce And Custody Cases – This post highlights the benefits of choosing mediation for divorce and custody cases, emphasizing its cost-effectiveness and potential advantages over traditional litigation.
  10. How to Get Child Custody from a Narcissist in Las Vegas – This post offers strategies and tips for obtaining child custody from a narcissistic parent specifically in the context of Las Vegas or similar jurisdictions, addressing the unique challenges that may arise.


We encourage readers to explore these resources to gain valuable insights and guidance.

Offsite Resources

Offsite Resources You May Find Helpful

Here are some resources that can provide more information and support for those navigating child custody issues:

  1. American Bar Association (ABA) Family Law Section: The ABA’s Family Law Section provides resources on divorce, child custody, and other related topics.

  2. Our Family Wizard: This co-parenting tool can help reduce conflict and improve communication, which can be essential for maintaining custody.

  3. Child Welfare Information Gateway: This site offers resources on child welfare, child abuse and neglect, out-of-home care, adoption, and more.

  4. Avvo: Avvo offers a Q&A forum where users can ask legal questions and get answers from lawyers, as well as a directory of lawyers by specialty.

  5. FindLaw: FindLaw provides free legal information, a lawyer directory, and other resources related to family law.

  6. National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ): NCJFCJ provides research, training, and policy development relating to matters of family law, child protection, and custody.

whats-next

A Special Message from Our Lead Attorney

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Molly Rosenblum, Esq

Dear Reader,

I trust this message finds you well. I want to extend my heartfelt thanks for perusing the resources we’ve provided on “Avoid These Mistakes to Keep Custody.”

This topic can be intricate and nuanced, and it’s crucial to be well-informed to make the best decisions for your situation.

My team and I understand that every situation is unique, and a one-on-one conversation can significantly enhance our understanding of your needs and how we can best assist you.

I invite you to call us at (702) 433-2889. We are prepared and committed to guiding you through this process, providing the advice and support you need.

Please be mindful that while we are eager to speak with you and understand your situation, we do not offer a free consultation.

Our team values the professional expertise and comprehensive service we provide to help you navigate your legal journey successfully.

Thank you again for your time and interest in our resources. We are here to support you and look forward to the opportunity to assist you in this challenging time.

Warm regards,
Molly

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