Children deserve to live in an environment where they are nurtured, loved, protected, and provided for financially. Your home may provide an environment more conducive to the needs of your child more readily than the other parent. However, according to Texas law, you can’t just remove the child from the other parents’ home – you must fight for legal custody.

Child custody cases are sometimes lengthy, stressful, and complex, but certain factors only make matters worse. Learn what you should not do while fighting for custody of your child.

1. Ignore an Existing Order

If an existing order is in place, do not take it upon yourself to create a new order. Child support orders are legally binding documents, and when you fail to adhere to them, you may be breaking the law. For example, if you believe that the other parent’s home is unsafe, you cannot take the children to your home and keep them there if this action is not a part of your agreement.

If you violate the agreement, you could be charged with parental kidnapping, which is a serious crime. You would instead need to file an emergency motion for the order to be changed temporarily.

After the motion is filed, you may be able to take the children with you, legally, until a new permanent order is put into place. When you file an emergency motion, you must provide valid information to back up any claims you make against the other party.

2. Stop Paying Child Support

If you are currently under a child support order, you must continue to make payments as required. Payments must continue even when you know for sure that the money is not being spent appropriately to meet the child’s needs. In Texas, a failure to pay is a crime that may be punishable for a period up to 6 months in jail.

Any legal violation on your record will only hurt your claim for custody. Child support is also considered a basic need of the child. When you do not pay, you are voluntarily playing a part in your child’s needs not being met. If you’re arguing that the other parent is unfit, you will have a hard time labeling yourself a fit parent if you are not doing your part.

You must file a petition if you believe a modification to the existing child support order is appropriate.

3. Move Out of the House

If you and your ex are still living under the same roof and you plan to file for child custody, do not move out of the home you share with the children until you have an arrangement in place. Moving out of the family home signals several things to a judge, and not all the signs are in your favor.

If you are arguing for full custody of the children because the other parent is unfit, but you moved out and left the children behind, you disprove your argument. If the other parent was truly unfit, why would you voluntarily leave the children behind in an unsafe environment? The court may also award a temporary form of custody to the parent that remains in the home.

Once you move out, some time could pass before you’re able to see and visit with the children. Once the other parent has been awarded the temporary title, you may need to go to court during the interim to establish a visitation schedule.

Your child deserves the best possible life, so ensure you’re committed to doing your part to ensure your child thrives. In addition to avoiding the above mistakes, an attorney can help you reach a successful outcome in your custody case. At The Law Office of Cicily Simms, we want to help you. Contact our office so that we can discuss your situation.