Pennsylvania parents who are going through a child custody dispute should avoid talking to the other parent or to friends about their strategy. These conversations should only happen between the parent and an attorney. Parents should also avoid the temptation to listen to loved ones who advise that they should push harder for more visitation time or support. This can turn a relatively amicable negotiation into an unpleasant one.
In court, a parent should avoid displaying anger and bitterness toward the other parent. This can make a negative impression on the judge, and if it appears that a parent is unwilling to be cooperative, it could cost them custody. A judge may react similarly to the insistence that a child needs one parent more than the other. Older children may be permitted to speak on their own behalf in court if they wish, but a parent should avoid speaking for them.
Parents should also not assume that because they have an attorney, their work is done. Parents should research and understand custody laws and what kind of paperwork they need to complete. However, good communication with the attorney is vital as well, and a parent should not change their strategy without discussing it with counsel.
Ideally, parents might be able to reach a custody agreement without going to court, but this is not always possible. Parents may simply be unable to agree on a compromise or one parent may have serious concerns about the fitness of the other parent and their child’s safety if there is substance abuse or domestic violence. They should discuss their specific concerns with an attorney, and together, they may be able to develop an effective strategy that leads to the parent’s preferred outcome.