As everyone knows, divorce is difficult, and if a couple has children, those difficulties increase. If you are involved (or about to be involved) in a child custody dispute during or subsequent to your divorce, you will need the advice and services of the right Indiana family law attorney.

The anxiety caused by a divorce proceeding or a subsequent custody battle may lead a parent to behave in thoughtless or irrational ways that hurt that parent’s chances of winning custody. Every move a parent makes in a divorce trial or a child custody dispute will be watched closely.

Parents who are seeking the custody of their child should realize in advance that their behavior may be scrutinized throughout the process, and they will need to watch their actions. What do you need to avoid in order to be awarded child custody?

Keep reading, and you’ll learn what mistakes parents frequently make in custody cases. You will also learn how an Indiana child custody attorney can help you avoid these costly mistakes while advising you, protecting your rights, and advocating effectively on your behalf.

What Mistakes Do Parents Have to Avoid?

If you seek to receive child support, to win your child’s physical custody, or simply to have visits with your child, your behavior will be scrutinized by the court throughout the process.

These are some of the behaviors that must be avoided in order to prevail in a child custody dispute:

Anger toward your children or spouse: While a divorce trial or a child custody battle is pending, act as if every word you utter is being overheard by the judge in your case. Simply raising your voice too loudly may be perceived as intimidation or abuse.

Alienation of affection: When a parent constantly derides and criticizes a child’s other parent, the child may feel a need to “side with” that parent against the other. The law calls this “alienation of affection,” and it cannot help you win a child custody battle.

Physical contact of any kind: Physical contact made with someone else in a manner that is offensive or harmful is a criminal offense. Indiana defines assault as an action that may cause injury or unwanted contact with another, while battery is actual physical contact.

Cohabitation: Judges frown on parents who set up housekeeping with a new partner before the divorce proceeding is final. Such a parent may be perceived as insensitive. It’s better if your new partner doesn’t meet your child until the divorce is behind you.

Failing to make child support payments: Disregarding a child support order may be deemed contempt of court. Not paying child support can be seen as disrespectful toward the court and as expressing a lackadaisical attitude about your child’s best interests.

Not telling your ex if you take the kids: Good parenting plans let both parents have time with their children. However, if you take your children, and if you don’t tell their other parent, it may seem as if you’re abducting the children and seeking to flee with them.

Are There Other Mistakes Parents Seeking Custody Can Make?

The list above includes some but not all of the mistakes parents can make when seeking child custody. One duty of a child custody lawyer is helping clients to know and avoid these types of behaviors.

Parents seeking child custody should also avoid the use of illegal drugs, engaging in criminal activity, or getting terminated from a job while a custody procedure is pending. Getting arrested for intoxicated driving, for instance, could potentially sink your efforts to win your child’s custody.

What Are the Biggest Mistakes Parents Must Avoid?

Possibly the two most serious mistakes that parents can make in child custody disputes are (1) inflexibility, and (2) failing to have the right family law attorney’s advice and representation from the start of the legal process.

Parents who can compromise, change, and put their child’s best interests ahead of other considerations may be seen by the court as effective parents who have good judgment.

When both parents can compromise and work with one another in their children’s best interests, even the thorniest disputes can be resolved.

When divorcing parents agree regarding custody, child support, and visitations, the court will “sign off” on those agreements, so long as they serve the best interests of the child or children.

What About Custody Disputes Between Parents Who Never Married?

Because Indiana parents who did not marry do not get divorced, the courts do not automatically become involved with their disputes. Parents who have not married may agree privately to their own custody arrangements, or they may seek a child custody lawyer’s guidance.

If, however, a court learns that a child born outside of marriage is in some way at risk, the court will ignore any private agreements and may issue legally-binding child support, visitation, and/or child custody orders.

If you did not marry your child’s other parent, contact an Indiana family law attorney should you require legal counsel – or if you must go to court – regarding a child custody disagreement.

Can a Court’s Custody Order Be Modified?

No court order or custody arrangement is necessarily permanent. As situations change over time in everyone’s life, child support, custody, and visitation orders may have to be updated – the legal term is “modified” – to accommodate those changes.

The loss of a job, a relocation, an injury or illness, or the birth of another child with a new spouse may require the court orders to be updated, and the court itself must approve the changes. Indiana family lawyers routinely represent parents who seek modifications of court orders.

What Does a Child Custody Dispute Require?

Succeeding in a child custody case or a modification hearing will require parents to make the children’s best interests their highest priority. When both parents take this approach, disputes can usually be avoided, and disagreements can usually be negotiated or compromised.

If you’re a parent and you are getting divorced in or adjacent to Lake County, or should a child custody dispute surface at a later time, the right Lake County child custody attorney can provide the sound legal advice and effective representation you need.

When Should Parents Contact an Attorney?

Nothing can trigger more anxiety for parents than a child custody battle. If you’re a parent and you are getting divorced in or near the Lake County area, or if a dispute over custody arises after the divorce, a good child custody attorney’s help is imperative.

In any child custody case in the State of Indiana, if you are a parent, you need an aggressive and effective family law attorney who understands your anxieties and concerns. Reach out, make the call, and take advantage of that attorney’s guidance from the start of the process.