By Douglas J. Manning, Partner, Certified Specialist in Family Law

So you want to “win” your child custody case?  Here are some do’s and don’ts:

  1. The most successful party is almost always the more cooperative parent:  Avoid picking fights with, or escalating fights with the other parent.
  2. Basic care for the children should be of high quality:  Make sure your child is returned to the other parent in clean clothes, with good hygiene, etc.
  3. Avoid saying anything negative to the children about the other parent, or the other parent’s friends or family:  Obviously children can be hurt by hearing negative comments about the other parent, whom they love.
  4. The children’s toys and clothes belong to the children, no matter who paid for them:  The child has the right to control their own belongings.  If items don’t get returned from the other parent’s house, this is an issue between the parents, not the child.
  5. If the two parents are together in a public place, the children should be allowed to talk freely to both parents.
  6. Information about the children should pass freely between the parents:  It is in your child’s best interests that both parents know about the child’s health, homework, etc.
  7. Some advanced thought about communication between parents may save a lot of difficulties:  Consider and discuss whether you want to use texts, email, a communication journal, etc.
  8. Do not, under any circumstances, use the child as the messenger.
  9. Children should be free to speak to the absent parent.
  10. Don’t share confidences with the children about your own feelings.