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During child custody disputes, it's common for parents to fight over who is the better parent and who should have custody. Unfortunately, all too frequently the fight is not contained in the courtroom, and parents act out in ways that can have permanent effects.
Recently, two news stories are garnering attention for this very reason. Last week, a New Jersey father was sentenced to 23 years after murdering another man during an argument over a child custody dispute. Due to the length of the sentence, he no longer has any chance at getting custody. And in Tennessee, a father was non-fatally stabbed in the back twice by the mother's boyfriend, during a confrontation regarding a child custody dispute. Now, the mother will likely have to face consequences for associating with a violent criminal.
Violence Is Never the Answer
Violence is never a legal option in any scenario (excepting self-defense). When a parent is in a custody battle, any act of violence, whether or not committed against the other parent, can seriously jeopardize their ability to gain custody.
Violent acts are more often than not criminal acts which can result in prison sentences. If a parent is in prison, it is unlikely that a court will award custody. Furthermore, courts consider a parent's criminal history, as well as the histories of those whom the parent lives with, particularly as to how it may affect the child, and courts will generally be wary about awarding custody to a parent with a history of violent crime.
Let Your Lawyer Be Mean
Simply attempting to enforce one's parental rights to custody can lead to highly emotional disputes between parents. Good relationships can turn sour real fast. Although there may be a desire to yell at, lash out at, or retaliate against the other parent, doing so can have negative consequences. Hiring an aggressive lawyer, as well as documenting the other parent's bad behavior, is a much better option. Hiring a lawyer, and actually letting them handle the dispute, is a good way to insulate your legal decisions from the emotional aspects.
Generally, courts want children to have both of their parents involved in their lives. So, courts generally will not take away custody from a parent without a good reason. This means that so long as a parent has not done anything wrong, a court usually will not award sole custody over a parent's objection. An aggressive lawyer can enforce your rights to the fullest extent while putting the other side under a microscope.