Custody battles are emotional from beginning to end—and it's easy to make mistakes when your heart starts leading your head.
If you're at the start of a custody battle, take this guide to heart so that you avoid some of the biggest mistakes that parents can make during this time:
1.) Don't forget what the fight is about.
If your ex is a lousy parent, the odds are good that he or she was a lousy partner as well. However, you never want to focus on how your ex failed in your relationship to the judge or guardian ad litem assigned to your case. Even if you're just trying to give an example that speaks to how inattentive or awful your ex can be, never discuss events that occurred between you (instead of those between your ex and your child). You'll end up sounding like a bitter ex with an ax to grind.
2.) Don't listen to other people's well-meaning advice.
Your friends and family may think they're being helpful by offering their own stories or advice, but you can quickly be led astray if you listen. No two custody battles are exactly alike, so never assume that what worked for—or against—someone else will do the same in your case. Your child custody attorney is the only person whose advice you should heed right now.
3.) Don't talk about the case to other people.
It's natural to want to talk about what's happening in your custody case—particularly when it's occupying most of your time. Unfortunately, you can damage your case that way. Discussing your plans with anyone but your attorney runs the risk that someone will tell your ex what to expect -- which could cost you a key advantage in court.
4.) Don't disparage your ex in public (especially on social media).
The fact that you think your ex is a terrible parent is probably evident, so don't feel the need to reiterate that on social media or elsewhere. You need to give the appearance that you're willing to facilitate a relationship between your ex and your child if you get primary custody. Any disparaging comments about your ex can be used against you in court to show the judge that you aren't capable of doing so.
5.) Don't forget that you have to follow the rules.
There may be some temporary orders put into place during the custody battle that you don't really like. Just remember that they are temporary and follow them anyhow. Your willingness to faithfully follow the court's directives will work in your favor by showing the judge that you can be trusted to obey whatever rules are established (even if your ex can't)—and trustworthiness is important in custody cases.
Keep in mind that this battle can be a long one and constantly keep your eye on the goal. That will help you get through the daily struggle a little more easily.