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How to increase your chances of winning a child custody case

New York parents facing custody battles over their children in a divorce may worry that their actions might affect the judge's decision. These fears are warranted, as judges scrutinize many aspects of parents' lives when determining which parent should have physical custody.

No longer is it presumed that the mothers automatically are the best choice for primary custody. Some statistics indicate that when biological fathers seek custody, in at least half of the cases the judge will side with them. The overriding principle remains that what is in the best interest of the child shall prevail.

Given that, there are definite pitfalls to avoid when embroiled in a nasty custody dispute with an ex. Some are listed below.

-- Not taking an active part in your child's life. Parents should know the names of their children's teachers and attend school events and parent-teacher conferences. They should accompany their sons and daughters to doctors' visits and have at least a basic knowledge of who their friends are.

-- Relinquishing the role of primary caretaker. This is the parent who helps with homework, feeds them, gives them baths and reads bedtime stories. If this is not your role, make some immediate changes.

-- Sending emails or letters filled with vitriol or leaving obscenity-laden voice mails for your ex. A virtual paper trail can be used as damning evidence against you in a custody case.

-- Failing to address substance abuse issues. Simply having a drink or two is unlikely to cause custody ramifications, but a parent who over-imbibes or becomes dependent on any substance (even legally prescribed medications) can be subject to random drug testing and psychological assessments and evaluations.

-- Talking negatively about the other parent. A child is harmed by his or her mom's or dad's disparagement of the other parent. Judges will look upon this as if you are trying to sabotage the relationship and rule accordingly.

-- Losing self control. Outbursts in court or elsewhere show a lack of judgment and poor impulse control. Those prone to losing their tempers with little provocation should develop some anger management skills.

-- Not following your attorney's advice. An experienced family law attorney can help guide you through the rough shoals of a custody case. You should have faith in their decision-making abilities and follow their advice to increase your chances at a successful resolution of your case.

Source: Huffington Post, "How To Lose Child Custody" Jacqueline Harounian, Esq., Oct. 01, 2014

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