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What Can Be Used Against You in a Custody Battle

Key Factors and Strategies

Custody battles can be tough for both parents, as both strive to reach the best agreement for the child’s sake. If you’re worried about the court decision, behave properly to get the best out of the custody hearing.

Every parent has their child’s best interest at heart, but you need to show that to the court. Both parents need to put their disputes aside to reach a compromise for their child.

Read on to know what can be used against you in a custody battle. This article offers 11 actions to avoid in order to win your custody battle. It also gives you an idea about the types of child custody and the typical duration of custody battles.

Types of Child Custody

When the parents separate, they have to decide what will happen to their children. In a perfect case scenario, parents can reach a compromise and agree on win-win terms that suit both parties.

However, that’s not always the case. Typically, parents launch custody battles with each party trying to win full custody of the child.

The judge makes a decision based on the child’s best interest principle, granting these types of child custody:

  • Legal custody: The right of the parents to make major life decisions for the child, such as education and religious affiliation.
  • Physical custody: The responsibility of providing a physical home and making everyday decisions for the child, such as meals and daily schedules.
  • Sole custody: Only one parent is granted legal or physical custody. Thus, only one parent has the right to make decisions and give the child home.
  • Joint custody: That’s a favored custody arrangement, where both parents get the right to make major life decisions for their children. Joint physical custody also means that the child spends his time with both parents.

What Is the Child’s Best Interest Principle?

The legal process may differ from one state to the other. In addition, every case and every family has different circumstances.

However, the court always seeks a decision that reflects the child’s best interest principle. That involves granting custody rights based on the following criteria:

  • The emotional relationships and ties between the child and the siblings, parents, and other family members
  • The child’s and the parent’s physical and mental needs
  • The parent’s ability to provide the child with living necessities, including suitable housing, food, clothing, and medical care.
  • History of domestic violence or child abuse

How Long Do Custody Battles Take?

The duration of this legal battle varies depending on the state and the case. Moreover, other factors contribute to how long it takes before you reach a custody agreement.

The Complexity of the Case

For starters, the complexity of the case is a determinant factor. The more issues and stakeholders involved, the longer the case may take in court.

For instance, some cases entail child support payments, visitation rights, financial doubts, or relocation prospects. These cases can typically take several months or perhaps years in court.

The Workload

Family courts are busier in some states than others. Therefore, the workload and capacity of the family court in your state have a saying.

For example, a large number of cases and proceedings handled by the judges can prolong the duration of your case. In addition, there’s also the availability of judges and custody attorneys to look into the case.

The Relation Between Parents

The willingness of both parents to negotiate and reach a compromise for the benefit of the child is important. If they can reach some common ground, the case may be resolved through custody mediation.

That way, your battle may end faster than expected. On the other hand, if the parents aren’t on good terms, the case may require even longer processing in court.

What to Avoid During Custody Battles

To reach favorable custody arrangements, you should work hard to appear as a responsible parent. The judge needs to see that you have the best child’s interest at heart.

Here’s a list of what can be used against you in a custody battle:

1. Failure to Fulfill Child Support Payments

If you fail to pay court-ordered child support, you demonstrate your irresponsibility as a parent to the judge. It shows that you don’t care about your child’s interest.

In addition, this action may lead the court to believe that you’re unable to fulfill your parenting responsibilities. That can be powerful grounds for denying you child custody.

One of the main factors the court considers is the parent’s ability to maintain the child’s necessities. After all, the child’s financial and social stability are key elements sought by the court.

2. Parental Alienation

Parental alienation refers to a situation where one parent alienates the child from the other. That can be done by involving the child in negative thoughts about the other parent.

Fostering negative feelings in the child toward the other parent can be used against you in a custody battle. This behavior falls under the umbrella of emotional abuse.

Therefore, be extra cautious not to bad-mouth your ex-spouse or try to turn your kid against them in any way. That way, you can have a chance in the custody battle.

3. Substance Abuse

Drug or alcohol abuse is a negative behavior that will definitely affect your chance of legal or physical custody. Substance use demonstrates to the court your inability to grant the child a stable environment.

Substance abuse may affect the child’s ability to function socially and academically. Staying close to a parent who uses drugs may even put the child in direct danger.

In some cases, if the judge gets proof that you abuse drugs or alcohol, they’ll make your partner the sole custodian of the child.

4. Altercations

This relates to domestic violence, whether physical or verbal. Your behavior towards your ex-spouse or the child makes a difference in your child custody battle. To get the positive outcome you seek, demonstrate respect to the child and their parents.

Maintaining a positive relationship with your ex-spouse shows the court that you can secure a safe environment for your child. If you care about getting custody of your child, make sure you keep calm during the divorce process and child custody disputes.

Being a respectable parent may result in a favorable outcome. Moreover, be careful with whom you confide about your inner feelings toward your ex-spouse – for anything you say or do can be used against you in a custody hearing.

family court

5. Criminal Background

If one of the parents has a criminal background, they might be denied child custody.

However, it’s not always the rule. That parent will lose custody if the judge doubts their ability to secure a safe environment for the child.

And not all criminal accusations are equal. After all, a felony may be more dangerous for the kid than a minor misdemeanor. For instance, a DUI case years ago doesn’t put your child at direct risk.

In fact, the judge considers four aspects:

  • How violent the charge was
  • Whether it’s a concurrent crime
  • Whether the charge reflects the parent’s irresponsibility towards the child
  • When the crime happened

6. Introducing a New Romantic Partner

The child is usually the first stakeholder in the custody process. It’s a time of instability and insecurity. Therefore, introducing a new romantic partner in your child’s life can be translated negatively in court.

Children aren’t very good at dealing with change, especially when it entails losing their familiar family setting. That makes bringing a new partner into the deal a major problem.

It’s wise to wait to introduce that new partner after the battle for legal custody is over. When your child feels more stable and copes with the new setting, they will accept a further change like this.

7. Neglect and Abuse

Neglect as well as verbal, emotional, or physical child abuse can significantly lower your chances of getting child custody. Instances of neglect or abuse can be proven through testimonies of neighbors, coaches, or teachers.

Moreover, medical records or Child Protective Services reports form compelling evidence that drives the judge to deny you custody. That all falls within the court’s attempts to ensure the safety and security of the child.

In addition, a lack of involvement in your child’s life can be a form of neglect. The court tends to give custody to the parent who can be most beneficial to the child.

8. Denying Contact with the Other Parent

For your child’s well-being, they should have contact with both their parents. Denying your kid that right can lead to losing custody. Regardless of your relationship with your ex-partner, you shouldn’t prevent them from contacting the kid in person or via phone.

Moreover, no parent has the right to take the child out of state without the other parent’s consent. The kid has to feel totally free to talk or meet both their parents.

On the other hand, if the other parent has denied you contact with the child, keep a log of the date and time to use it against them during the court proceedings.

9. Interfering With the Child’s Regular Activities

If you and your partner decide to leap into the unknown with a divorce, your child doesn’t have to pay for it. Divorce and custody proceedings are challenging enough for your kid, so don’t add to them. Stick to your child’s regular schedule as much as you can.

For example, don’t try to remove the kid from daycare or school. Even if you wish to see your child, don’t try to do it during their regular school or sports time.

In addition, any tampering with the child’s participation in sports or extracurricular activities can be used against you in a court of law. During custody battles, everyone involved, including the judge and the family attorney, should work hard to minimize any change in the child’s everyday life.

10. Mental Health Issues

Although mental health issues don’t disqualify a parent, they can still be taken against you in a custody battle. Therefore, parents with a mental health record may face problems during custody hearings.

The judgment is usually based on the child’s relationship with the parent, as well as the parent’s ability to fulfill their parental responsibilities. That ability may be impaired by a persistent mental health problem, such as anxiety or depression.

Always remember that the judge’s primary concern is the child’s safety and security. If the mental health concern doesn’t really threaten the child in any way, it’s most likely to be disregarded in court.

11. Violating Court Orders

Show your respect to the court. If you or your ex-spouse have been granted visitation rights, abide by them. For instance, don’t disturb your ex’s parenting time with the child.

Courts in all US states believe that it’s in the child’s best interest to have a healthy relationship with both parents. That way, parents can minimize the change imposed on the child’s life after the divorce.

If you violate court orders, you’re most likely to lose the custody battle. Try to go with the court-set visitation schedule, even if you don’t like it. You can always consult a family law attorney to help you appeal for any ruling that’s not in your favor.


Parents should always have their children in mind when making life-changing decisions. However, if they fail to reach a custody agreement after their separation, they can resort to family courts.

Legal custody battles can be stressful. Therefore, you need to know what can be used against you in a custody battle. Avoiding such behaviors may lead to a favorable decision whether you use the help of a child custody attorney or not.

For starters, any lack of respect between the parents may lead to a prolonged time in court. So, try to keep good terms for your child’s sake.

Other behaviors to avoid during custody battles include altercations, substance abuse, disrupting your child’s regular schedule, and violating court orders.

In every action you take, make sure you put your child first. That can help you reach an agreement faster and smoother.