5 Things NOT to Do During a Child Custody Case

#1 Involving the Kid in the Custody Case

Telling them all the “bad things” the other parent is doing in court or disparaging them, telling them the other parent doesn’t love them.

Not only is that a bad look to the judge (and grounds for reducing or eliminating your custody), it is PERMANENTLY damaging to the child. It will take years of therapy, counseling, etc. to repair that damage.

If the other parent is bad, the kid WILL figure that out. You can be kind and honest without lying and without being disparaging.

#2 Withhold the Child

Not only are you punishing the other parent and potentially violating a court order, but you are punishing the kid.

Unless the parent is entirely unsafe—as in serious risk of immediate injury to life or limb—you cannot withhold. If the parent is unsafe or making threats of leaving the country in writing (text or social media), speak to a lawyer immediately.

#3 Drugs and Alcohol

Don’t do it! What might have been acceptable levels of drinking with your ex before won’t cut it now, especially if they are alleging any domestic violence, etc.

#4 Corporal Punishment

Unless you BOTH agree (in writing) on it, I strongly advise not spanking your child. Lots of research about how corporal punishment is not helpful for children’s development, but even if you agree that corporal punishment is ok—NOT during a court case. Note: we’re not saying NO punishment, but spanking/beating/belts… NO.

#5 Involving the New Significant Other

Eventually, yes, but if you are in the midst of a serious fight, that is NOT the time to introduce a significant other. When you do so, do so gradually, starting with the occasional meal, then longer activities, then weekends, then we can discuss overnights, etc.

Doing this too fast can not only cause the other party to freak out and make all sorts of insane allegations, but also the judge to question if you are putting your kids first and make the kids feel secondary or insecure and drags all aspects of your (and your significant other’s) life into the public eye in court.


Comments about your ex—whether explicit or “Vaguebooking”—have no place and WILL be used against you.

Happy pictures of kids? SURE! Vague comments about now that “others have moved on” and how they now have a “REAL PARENT” in their lives (referring to your new significant other) will be hammered against you in court.

Just don’t do it! Keep your private life private.

That also applies to texts, emails, etc. It can and likely will be subpoenaed, so choose your words very carefully during a custody battle!

Need help with your child custody issues? Contact the family law attorneys at Apple Payne Law to schedule your consultation.

Author Bio

Ronald D. Payne II
Ronald D. Payne II is the CEO and Managing Attorney of Apple Payne Law, a North Carolina law firm he founded in 2018. With more than 11 years of experience practicing law, he is dedicated to representing clients in a wide range of legal matters, including business law, estate planning, family law, probate, and traffic law.

Ronald received his Juris Doctor from the Wake Forest University School of Law and is a member of the North Carolina Bar Association. He has received numerous accolades for his work, including being awarded the 2020 Client’s Choice Award by Avvo and multiple Rising Star awards from Super Lawyers.

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