If you are going through a divorce and have children, it's an inevitably overwhelming time. There's a good chance this is your first time dealing with the legal system, and it's confusing and complicated. Add in the emotional turmoil that comes with ending a marriage, and you might feel totally lost.
But when it comes to matters of custody (or parenting responsibility and parenting plans), it's critical that you are informed and educated. Custody decisions involve the most important people in your life - your children and it's important that you protect them as best you can by avoiding some of the most common mistakes.
Making Decisions Out Of Anger
Custody cases most often stem from divorces, and most divorces don't stem from a happy place. Even in the most amicable types of divorce situations, there is likely still some contention. It's hard to put all emotions aside and make good decisions, especially during one of the most challenging and stressful times of your life.
But if you are making parenting plan decisions out of spite, it's time to take a step back and cool off. It's incredibly selfless (and difficult) to truly think about what's in the best interest of your children. Even the best parents can be consumed by emotions, so it's not a reflection of you as a parent.
As an added reason to work together, if you and your spouse can't come to decisions in mediation, the process will get a lot more costly and messy. Rather than trying to make your ex suffer, it's imperative that you think about what's good for your children - now and in the future. Don't make decisions that serve more as a punishment to your ex rather than what's best for your children.
Taking Action Without Consulting An Attorney
You got a great job opportunity out of state and are planning to move. It's just a couple of hours away, across the border into Wisconsin. Shouldn't be a big deal, right? Wrong. Moving out of the state of Illinois requires a court order.
In any situation regarding relocating, it's best to talk to an experienced family law attorney who understands the laws in Illinois. In any scenario that involves your kids, and you just aren't 100 percent sure it's within your parenting plan, an attorney can help you understand if you are within your rights or not. Because if you do something that ends up breaking your custody agreement, the consequences could be serious.
Bad Mouth The Other Parent On Social Media
You're going through a divorce. You're frustrated with your ex. You're frustrated with everything. You lash out a little on Facebook and make reference to your ex being a terrible parent and give a little anecdote to illustrate your point. And then a mutual friend who you forgot was still friends with your ex shows your ex. Your ex shows his/her attorney. The attorney shows the judge. Who looks bad in this situation? You.
The judge will likely not be impressed with childish antics, and it could make an impact on his or her decision about your custody case. The immediate gratification isn't worth the long-term risk, so don't put your thoughts in writing (on Facebook, in text messages or otherwise).
Parenting responsibilities and parenting plans are some of the most important arrangements you will ever make. Make sure you know what you are doing.