With the narrow scope of information that a Judge gets to observe in a child custody case, clients often ask us what they need to do in order to get across to a Judge that they are "the good parent." Our short answer is that our clients need to be able to "wear the white hat" and come into Court with a complete clean slate if they are trying to get a custody Order changed or modified in their favor.
Below we have listed some helpful tips for how to "wear the white hat":
1. Rise above the fray.
Though it can be extremely difficult, a party needs to let petty insults and behavior slide, no matter how infuriating. If the party being insulted responds by also firing off insults, even if it is only once or twice, the Court will just see both parties as unable to rise above the pettiness. However, if one party is constantly agitating the other party, while the other party remains calm, this can often be a huge advantage in a custody trial.
2. Be positive about your ex.
Though it may seem counterintuitive, it can help to remain positive about your ex, telling him or her what they are doing right, as opposed to what they are doing wrong. If the Court sees that one party is always being negative to the other party, while the other party is trying to build bridges and find common ground, this will be viewed very favorably.
3. Don't put the children in the middle.
While this may seem obvious, parents need to keep custody disputes between themselves, without involving the children. Using the child as a "messenger," compelling the child to tell the other parent negative things, or probing the child for information about the conditions at the other parent's parenting time, can all be viewed negatively by the Court. If a parent is perceived as "putting the child in the middle," while the other parent is keeping the child out of the dispute, this can be fatal to a custody case.
4. Follow you Order.
If you are in the middle of custody litigation, it is critical that you are following any existing custody Order to the letter. If a party comes to Court seeking relief, and has not been following the custody Order the Court currently has in place, the Court will likely already perceive that party as disrespecting the Court's authority. If you feel that provisions of the Order will put you or your child in danger if followed, the appropriate remedy is to seek a Protective Order or Emergency Order to Show Cause, not to engage in "self-help."
Following these tips could be the difference between winning and losing your custody case. If you have an issue involving custody, please contact one of our experienced New Jersey and Lehigh Valley Custody and Family Law attorneys today to set up a free consultation. If you have any questions please contact Winegar, Wilhelm, Glynn & Roemersma at 908-454-3200 or visit our website at WWGRLAW.com for more information.
THE FOREGOING IS INTENDED TO BE A GENERAL DISCUSSION OF THE LAW AND IS NOT INTENDED TO BE CONSTRUED AS LEGAL ADVICE. IF YOU HAVE A SPECIFIC QUESTION, PLEASE CONTACT OUR OFFICE TO SPEAK WITH AN ATTORNEY.