What Can Be Used Against You in a Custody Battle?
For parents going through a custody dispute in Minnesota, it is critical to understand that many different factors can influence the outcome of your child custody case.
While every child custody battle is unique, there are some common mistakes parents make that may hurt their chances of getting custody or lead to reduced parenting time.
This article examines key things that can be used against you when fighting for child custody in Minnesota courts. We’ll explore tactics to avoid and steps you can take to strengthen your custody case.
Understanding How Custody is Determined in MN
In Minnesota, the overarching principle governing child custody decisions is the “best interest of the child.” Family law judges aim to establish custody arrangements that serve the child’s best interests.
Some factors considered when evaluating the child’s best interests include:
- The wishes and preferences of the child
- How close the relationship is between each parent and child
- Which parent has historically been the child’s primary caretaker
- The mental and physical health of all parties involved
- Which parent can provide a stable environment and meet the child’s needs
- Any history of domestic violence or abuse
Custody may be awarded as joint custody, sole physical custody to one parent, or sole legal and physical custody to a parent. In joint custody, parents share decision-making responsibilities and parenting time.
8 Things That Can Be Used Against You in a MN Custody Battle
There are many ways your own behaviors and actions during a custody dispute may work against you. Here are 8 key things that can damage your chances of getting custody in Minnesota:
1. Failure to Pay Child Support
Not paying court-ordered child support is one of the quickest ways to hurt your custody case. Judges will see failure to provide financial care for your child as irresponsible parenting.
If you are behind on child support payments, get caught up prior to your custody hearing. Be prepared to show proof you are current on all owed child support.
2. Moving Your Child Out of State Without Permission
Removing your child from the state without the other parent’s or court’s permission is against MN law. This shows blatant disregard for the custody order and is viewed very negatively.
You must get written consent from the other parent or approval from the court before relocating out of state with your child. Otherwise, it can be considered child abduction.
3. Making Derogatory Remarks About the Other Parent
Never make negative comments about the other parent in front of your child. This can cause parental alienation and emotional harm. Judges frown upon a parent who tries to undermine the other parent’s relationship with the child.
4. Cutting Off the Other Parent’s Visitation Rights
Denying or interfering with the other parent’s court-ordered parenting time violates Minnesota law. For example, refusing to allow your ex to pick up your child or not being present during scheduled visitation pick-ups.
Unless there is a safety concern, stick to the custody schedule. Follow proper legal channels to modify the existing custody order instead of taking matters into your own hands.
5. Not Cooperating with Court-Ordered Evaluations
If the judge assigns a custody evaluator, full participation is critical. Lack of cooperation, such as missing appointments, avoiding requests for interviews or information, or being combative, displays contempt for the court.
Work openly with the custody evaluator. Answer their questions honestly, provide requested documentation in a timely manner, and comply with their recommendations.
6. Relocating Your Child to an Unsupported School District
The choice of school districts is usually a joint legal custody decision. Moving your child into a new district without the other parent’s consent can hurt you in court.
Consult your ex and try to reach an agreement on schooling. If you cannot agree, request mediation or ask the court to decide.
7. Venting on Social Media
Venting your feelings about your ex online may feel cathartic in the moment. But angry social media posts insulting your ex or discussing details of your custody case can easily damage your standing with the court. Always take the high road online.
8. Bringing Your New Partner to Court Proceedings
Introducing your new boyfriend, girlfriend, or spouse into custody proceedings adds an unnecessary complication. The focus is on establishing a custody arrangement best for your child – not your new partner. Leave them at home to avoid controversy.
Tips to Win Child Custody
While no parent “wins” when fighting over a child in court, these tips can strengthen your case:
- Provide stability. Maintaining your child’s school, home, and friends shows commitment to consistency. Offer a detailed plan for meeting their needs if granted primary custody.
- Stay calm and take the high road. Judicial officers will observe your behavior. Never lose your cool, avoid friction with the other parent, and always take the high road. Focus on your child.
- Take an active parenting role. Document your involvement in school, medical care, and child-rearing. Judges want assurance you will stay engaged as an active parent.
- Gather witnesses. Testimony from teachers, doctors, family friends, or even an older child can be beneficial. Their perspectives validate you as a loving, responsible caregiver.
- Cooperate and compromise when possible. Bipartisan solutions allowing both parents significant roles show maturity and wisdom. Mud-slinging and unwillingness to compromise work against you.
- Have an experienced attorney. Seasoned family law attorneys know the system, standard rulings, and effective strategies. Their guidance can prove invaluable.
- Be flexible with schedules. Judges favor shared custody arrangements allowing substantial time with both parents. Show you can be flexible and make compromises that accommodate your child’s best interest and the other parent’s.
Costly Mistakes to Avoid in Custody Battles
Here are some common custody mistakes you should be sure to avoid:
- Disparaging the other parent or limiting their access to your child. Even if justified, judges frown on restricting the child-parent bond.
- Discussing the legal case in front of your child or within earshot. This places them in an uncomfortable middle position.
- Skipping scheduled visitations or withholding your child from the other parent. Such punitive actions reflect poorly and could be grounds for contempt charges.
- Misrepresenting facts or concealing evidence. Dishonesty raises doubts about your credibility and motives.
- Refusing to compromise or share custody rights. Inflexibility and unwillingness to co-parent amicably sends the wrong message.
- Losing your temper in court or during proceedings. Rage and outbursts suggest you may be volatile around your child.
- Making false abuse or unfit parent allegations. Fabrications to damage the other party often backfire.
- Frequent changes in attorneys. “Attorney shopping” suggests dissatisfaction on their part, not a winning legal strategy.
How an Experienced Child Custody Attorney Can Help
A qualified Minnesota family law attorney can provide guidance to help you avoid missteps as you navigate this challenging process. They will advise you on the proper legal procedures for modifying custody and work to build the strongest case for your desired custody outcome.
Martine Law handles complex custody disputes in MN courts regularly. Our team has extensive experience representing local clients in contested custody battles. We’ll dig deep into the details of your situation to build a customized legal strategy focused on securing your child’s best interests.
Contact Martine Law to explore your custody case options. Our team is ready to aggressively fight on your behalf so you can gain optimal custody rights.