Most parents can (and should) avoid going to Court about arrangements for their children in the event of separation. Unfortunately for some, Court is where they end up. Here are 5 things not to do if you find yourself in a dispute or headed to Court.
5 things not to do:
Lying to the Court (or your lawyer)
If you have done something you are not proud of, lying about it will only compound the problem. It is important that you are upfront and honest with your lawyer so they can give you the best advice possible and develop a strategy going forward. It is also vital that you are honest with the Court and in all of your Court documents. If you are found to be untruthful, it can hurt your case and mean that the Judge later does not believe other evidence you give. Even if you think you can get away with lying, even if you think your ex is lying, don’t do it.
Going in with unrealistic expectations
Most people’s perception of ‘Court’ is based on dramatised depictions in tv shows and movies. When you’re dealing with parenting arrangements, its important to remember Court is not a zero-sum or win-loss scenario. Your children’s future is being determined and you need to keep this in mind before becoming wedded to a particular position.
Your lawyer should give you realistic advice as to the potential outcomes of your case and it is important you use this advice to anchor any expectations you may have in Court proceedings.
Saying negative things to the children
Expressing your frustration about your ex might make you feel better, but it will likely confuse and upset your children. They love both parents and see themselves as part of each of you. When you criticise their other parent, they can take it as a criticism of them. It could also change what your children are willing to share with you about their true feelings and about their experiences with the other parent. The Court also does not look favourably on parents who cannot control themselves from saying negative things about their ex to the children.
Being rude or abusive to your ex
You may not like this person, but they are going to be in your life in some form, for a long time, and you need to be respectful in your communications with them. If you don’t want to talk to them face to face or by phone, then text messages, emails and various apps can be used. Utilising theseoptions can be a good way for you to consider what you are going to say before you say it. If you’re angry, wait until you have calmed down before you write the message, and even then, draft it and hold off sending it until you’ve had time to consider what you want to say and how they may perceive it.
Sharing on social media
A good rule of thumb is to assume that everything you share, post, like, comment on and say on social media will be used against you. Memes about “deadbeat dads” or “witch ex-wives” will not help your case. Act as if the Judge and your children will see everything that you post.
Going to Court about arrangements for your children can be an extremely stressful time. It is extremely important that you control your words and actions, both to help your case, and to benefit your children.
This article contains general information only. You should obtain independent legal advice particular to your circumstances.
You may also like to read: