When a couple decides to terminate their marriage, things can and probably will get heated at some point. This is particularly true when children are involved. It is easy to lose your cool and let emotions get the best of you and, frankly, no one can blame you when things escalate, but it is important to remember your children and what is in the best interest of them. My advice to clients regarding the do’s and don’ts of child custody in Arkansas are:
- Do Keep Discussions Age Appropriate for Children – Use your best judgement when it comes to telling kids about every detail regarding the case. Determine what is age appropriate for them. This is a difficult time for them as well; they do not need the extra stress of worrying about the case. Children will often imagine the worst-case scenario and internalize it or act out. Keep in mind this is his or her father or mother.
- Do Not Talk Poorly of the Other Parent in Front of the Children – Again, this is your children’s father or mother. It is important to not speak ill of your soon-to-be ex in front of the kids. Besides the fact that this can affect your children mentally, courts do not look favorable on parents who throw their children in the middle of a custody battle. You should also use caution when discussing matters with friends either in person or over the phone. Make sure your kids are not around where they overhear your conversation. Do not post anything negative on social media.
- Do Show Willingness to Work with Your Ex – Your ex will in all likelihood be in your children’s lives from now on. Therefore, it is not only important for you to work with him or her for their sake, it is important for the judge to see that you are willing to work with your ex and not using your children as pawns in an ugly divorce/custody battle.
- Do Not Begin a Romantic Relationship – You may be ready to move on with your life after a bad marriage, but it is advisable to avoid beginning any romantic relationships until your divorce is final. If you do decide to begin a romantic relationship, absolutely do not introduce the children to your partner until the divorce is final. Keep in mind that Arkansas is a conservative state and the courts tend to frown upon children being around romantic partners.
- Do Not Allow Unmarried Romantic Partners to Stay the Night When the Children are Present – As mentioned, Arkansas is a conservative state and cohabitation between unmarried partners does not look favorable to the courts. Even if your divorce and custody case are final, cohabitation could be grounds for changing custody.
- Do Be Aware that Perception is Everything – The only thing the courts have to go by is the evidence that is presented to them and what they perceive to be true. Do everything you can to present yourself to the court as a competent, involved, loving parent. This includes your appearance to the judge and maintaining proper courtroom etiquette. This also includes watching what you post on social media. Anything can be used against you. See Brad Hull’s, an attorney with Kevin Hickey Law Partners, past blog about social media and divorce.
- Do Request an In-Home Custody Evaluation – This is not needed in every case, but as mentioned in item #6, perception is everything. If you believe that your ex could present you in a negative way to the judge, you may want to consider this option as a way to assure the courts you are a fit parent.
- Do Maintain Honesty with Your Lawyer – In order to present your case to the best of your attorney’s ability, it is imperative that he or she knows every detail regarding the situation. Leaving out important details will damage your case and your attorney’s ability to address them before the judge.
Let Kevin Hickey Law Partners help you protect you and the best interest of your children. We can help guide you personally through the do’s and don’ts of your custody case with our extensive knowledge and expertise.