3 Child Custody Mistakes to Avoid
Child custody matters are stressful, emotional, and often difficult to resolve. In the process of trying to solve a problem, you may make mistakes that inadvertently and unintentionally undermine your legal position in a child custody case. Being aware of common child custody mistakes can help you avoid missteps and make sure you maintain the best legal footing in your custody case.
Mistake #1: Neglecting to focus on your child’s best interests.
During a custody case, it is easy for a parent to focus primarily on how the issues personally affect them and their own life, and make decisions on that basis. That is not how a court makes custody decisions. Under Nevada law, the overarching principle in a child custody case is what is in the best interests of the child. Ultimately, the judge decides every custody issue on that basis, giving consideration to all the evidence in the case.
Focusing too much on yourself and not enough on the interests of the child can lead to making serious mistakes that affect a custody case. Prioritizing your child’s interests demonstrates your commitment to doing what is best for your child, which is a critical factor to a judge. Providing emotional support for the child, creating a stable environment, addressing medical and physical issues, and keeping the child safe are all part of that priority.
Effective communication with the other parent and respect for the child’s relationship with the other parent, while difficult to achieve in some circumstances, are also part of making the child’s interests the most important priority. Taking actions that negatively affect these aspects of the case — such as talking poorly to the child about the other parent or making derogatory posts on social media — are mistakes that can affect the judge’s ultimate decision in the case.
Mistake #2. Failing to understand and comply with court orders.
In a custody case, the judge issues orders containing specific conditions and terms that both parents must understand and honor, whether the order is temporary or permanent. If either parent violates a custody order, the court can enforce the order by imposing sanctions or changing the custody order.
Making certain that you understand every term and condition of a custody order is crucial. Review all court orders carefully, discuss them with your lawyer, and be sure you know what you can and cannot do while an order is in effect. Topics in an order may include everything from decision-making for the child, the child’s residence, and visitation terms, to special conditions relating to the child. Making an outline or a list of important points to remember may be helpful.
In Nevada, the child custody court addresses both legal and physical custody. Most often, parents have joint legal custody, which means both parents have input into making decisions that affect the child. If you have joint legal custody, making unilateral decisions without consulting the other parent can be a serious mistake. Similarly, physical custody conditions in the court order, which relate to the residence of the child and visitation, must be fully honored without deviation.
You are responsible for complying with every term in the court order, regardless of what the other parent does. Even if the other parent fails to comply with one of the conditions of the court order, it does not excuse you from complying with the terms of the order, and it does not change how the conditions in the order apply to you. Only a new order from the judge can change the custody terms and conditions.
Mistake #3: Underestimating the importance and value of legal representation.
The stakes are high in a child custody case. The outcome affects your and your family’s future. Getting help from a child custody lawyer can make a significant difference in the outcome of a custody case. In addition to knowing custody laws, your attorney understands how to navigate the judicial process for resolving custody issues at all stages of the proceedings and avoids potential mistakes in the process and procedure that could affect the case.
When you have legal representation in a custody case, your lawyer provides an objective viewpoint, moral and emotional support, and knowledgeable legal guidance throughout the case. Your lawyer helps you to understand the court’s orders and know how to comply with all the legal requirements, such as how to make decisions for the child during the case. If the other parent violates a custody order, your lawyer can follow the necessary judicial procedure for addressing the noncompliance.
Your attorney works hard to resolve issues that arise during a custody case and knows how to negotiate solutions that can lead to an agreement with the other parent. Ultimately, having a lawyer may save the time and cost of a courtroom hearing in which the judge decides the issues, in addition to mitigating some of the emotional stress that naturally accompanies a custody case.
Schedule a Free Consultation with a Las Vegas Child Custody Lawyer
Experienced Las Vegas family law attorney Joseph Gersten assists clients with all family law matters, including child custody. He approaches every case with compassion and dedication to protecting the interests and rights of the client.
The Gersten Law Firm does not charge for your initial consultation. We serve clients in Las Vegas, Henderson, and elsewhere in Clark County. Call us at 702.857.8777 or complete our online form to schedule an appointment.