Disputes over child custody can get highly contested when parents aren’t able to reach agreements. This is unfortunate as everyone involved—especially the children—are experiencing their own unique trauma and have to learn on the fly how to cope. But as experienced family law attorneys, we see the anger, desperation, and poor decision making that can arise in the context of child custody, along with the horrendous consequences. We therefore urge our clients to avoid the following actions at all costs.
Don’t Resort to Harassment, Stalking, or Violence
Harassment, stalking, or violence have never resulted in a positive outcome for the person responsible. In fact, it is terrifying at best and deadly at its worst. If you resort to any of these actions, then you can count on three legal outcomes: (1) a domestic violence protective order entered against you; (2) criminal charges; or (3) the severe restriction or denial of visitation or access to your children.
Don’t Ignore Court Orders
If there is an existing written agreement, court order regarding custody, or a temporary order, it is essential to abide by the terms of that agreement. If you want to make a change to the agreement or order, you need to speak with an attorney about a modification. Failure to abide by an order, or taking matters into your own hands can subject you to sanctions (and contempt) and can weigh heavily against you in the judge’s mind.
Don’t Call DSS for Strategic Purposes
Your local county’s Department of Social Services is tasked with investigating reports of child abuse or neglect and taking the necessary steps to ensure the safety of children. Incredibly, we have observed far too many custody wars in which a parent makes a terrible decision to call in a false referral of abuse or neglect to DSS against the other parent. They do so to get the other parent in trouble with some expectation that this will help them prevail.
Nothing can be further from the truth. Not only are false DSS reports a crime, but they waste the time of an overworked agency investigating actual child abuse. In addition, getting DSS involved and potentially exposing your child to interviews and examinations is emotional abuse. Ultimately, getting caught making false claims to DSS will harm you.
Contact New Direction Family Law
If you are seeking custody of your children or the modification of an existing custody order, contact New Direction Family Law. We have successfully resolved all types of child custody cases, from amicable to bitterly contested. Our attorneys are intelligent and effective, and we know that your children are the center of your world. Let us help you. We serve clients throughout Wake, Johnston, Durham and surrounding counties. Contact our office at (919) 719-3470 to schedule a consultation or visit us online through our website.
Sarah J. Hink
New Direction Family Law