As a parent, the prospect of child custody proceedings can fill you with a sense of dread. There are behaviors on your part that can impact these proceedings, putting your parental rights in jeopardy. While you cannot change the past, you can show the court that you are a reasonable adult capable of putting your child’s best interests above your own.
Past Actions That Could Threaten Your Right to Custody
Things happen in life that can cause otherwise good people to get caught up in bad situations. Unfortunately, even if you have put the past behind you, having a checkered background could have an impact on your child custody rights today.
Under the New Jersey Statutes, there are numerous issues the judge will consider when determining child custody and visitation arrangements. This includes both the parent’s current and prior relationship with the child and their ability to provide the love, nurturing, and support the child needs. While the court generally encourages child time-sharing arrangements that allow both parents to be active and involved in the child’s life, there are past behaviors that can impact your rights in these proceedings. These include:
- Criminal activity: If you have a history of criminal activity, past arrests, or associations with others who have a criminal record, it could limit your rights to child custody and visitation.
- Drug or alcohol problems: The court’s primary concern is protecting the child’s health and well being. Parents who have a history of drug or alcohol problems and who have not received treatment are less likely to be trusted by the court with the child’s safety.
- Abandonment: If you went periods of time where you were not a part of the child’s life, you will need to slowly regain the child’s (and the court’s) trust.
- Domestic violence: A history of domestic violence, either against the other parent or in other relationships, will work against you in child custody proceedings.
- Child abuse: If you have ever been charged or investigated for child abuse in the past, your parental rights could be in jeopardy.
While it can be discouraging to have past bad behavior come back to haunt you today, there is hope. Provided you have complied with any court orders, paid fines or other penalties, sought treatment, or have other tangible proof you can point to that you have changed your behavior, the judge may still allow you to take part in any parenting plans made.
Behaviors to Avoid in Child Custody Proceedings
In addition to past actions, there are behaviors you can engage in currently during child time-sharing proceedings that can cast you in an unfavorable light. These include:
- Being late or unprepared for hearings: While unexpected events do crop up, being chronically late and not working with your attorney can negatively impact you.
- Losing your temper with the other parent or the judge: A judge may find you in contempt of court for this type of behavior.
- Refusing to cooperate in creating a parenting plan: The New Jersey Courts require parents to submit a parenting plan in child custody cases. Not being willing to negotiate with the other party will work against you.
- Refusing to abide by the terms of custody agreements: Once a court order is issued, it must be obeyed. Failure to do so could jeopardize your rights and may result in your arrest.
Get Our Middlesex County Child Custody Attorney on Your Side
To protect your rights as a parent in child custody hearings, get the Law Office of Jordan B. Rickards, Esq. on your side. Call or contact our Milltown family law attorney online to request a consultation today.