There are certain things that you should avoid in a bid to win your case against the other parent. The judges are knowledgeable of the fact that the child’s best interest is paramount and certain behaviors of parents may work to sabotage their chances of winning custody. 

A custody battle can be a lengthy process whether it goes to trial or not. Even if the case is determined without being contested, your behavior, communication, and relationship with the other parent or children should always be decent and respectful. 

What should you not do during a custody battle? Let’s discuss some of the things that may sabotage your chances of winning a child custody battle if you do not avoid them in and outside of the courtroom. 

Factors that Judges Can Use to Decide on Child Custody

Judges are well-skilled and experienced at handling matters relating to child custody. When confronted with a decision, they refer to the nature of the case, the laws relating to child custody, and other factors in considering the best interests of the child or children. 

In that regard, some of the few factors that would determine their decisions as in the New Jersey Statute includes:

  • Parents’ ability to cooperate, communicate, and agree over child matters. 
  • The willingness of the parent to accept custody. 
  • Relationship of the child with that parent and other siblings. 
  • Any history of domestic violence.
  • Any involvement with drug or alcohol abuse.
  • Safety of the child or children. 

These are some of the factors that are employed by judges when determining a child custody case. With some rational sense, you will be able to predict proper behavior and present yourself to the court for a favorable outcome.

Things You Should Not Do During Custody Battle

Certain things can hurt your case and cause the court to deny you custodial rights that you are seeking and affect how you relate with your ex-spouse and your children. 

Though child custody cases can be emotive, you should always strive to leave emotions aside when making tough decisions. Therefore, here are the things that you should avoid at all costs:

1. Dishonesty and Deceit 

Giving false information or concealing facts regarding the case may turn out for the worst…. for YOU.

 You should always be factual and honest when stating your case. There is no need for adding unnecessary information that may eventually ruin your options. For anything that you are not sure of, it is better to refrain yourself rather than doing guesswork out loud in the court. 

Apart from losing your case, you take an oath that everything you present to the court is nothing but the truth. If you give false information,whether on purpose or accident, you may end up being penalized for perjury. 

You should always remember that child custody is a process and the parties in your case may be aware of the situation at hand. Deceiving the court to win may just wind you up in jail overnight… or longer. 

To avoid this mistake and guesswork, it is important to keep a child custody journal so that you can be sure of the facts that you are stating in your case. With the journal, you or your lawyer will be accurate in representing your case with factual information to the best of your knowledge. 

2. Talking Negatively of The Other Parent 

Never….. Never talk negatively of the other parent in front of your peers, children, or anyone. Always be sober minded and maintain a decent tone without spewing hate or anything that may work negatively against you. 

At some point, especially if the case gets to trial, children may be interviewed by the opposing attorney. 

When this happens and the court finds out that you have always talked ill of the other parent, you are very likely to lose since the court will consider this detrimental to the interests of the children.

Both good communication and cooperation are essential requirements for parents that are undergoing custody battles. It is to the benefit of the children for the parents to make some agreements and show them life will be different but still peaceful and productive. 

While in this phase, talking ill or negatively at or about each other will do nothing but derail your case.

3. Alcohol and Drugs 

Substance abuse can be a factor that may also work against your case. Obviously, if you are an addict to drugs, then the court may consider you unfit to be the custodian of the child or children. In all situations regarding child custody, the best interests of the children will always prevail over that of individual parents

Try as much as possible to avoid any use or misuse of drugs. This can only hurt your chances in court.

Understandably, some parents resort to drugs or heavy drinking when the marriage fails to help cope with the overwhelming emotional toll it can take, but little do they know they are digging themselves deeper into a hole when it comes to child custody. 

The court wants to see parents that can take on the challenge of everyday life and guide the children through tough times as well, without self-medicating or needing to drink away stress and anxiety.

4. Physical Confrontation or Verbal Abuse 

Never confront the other parent or the children physically or verbally. 

This may seem obvious, but when there is an altercation that escalates quickly, people often look back surprised by their own actions, regretting the lack of control. 

Always strive to maintain a decent approach to issues regardless of how emotive they may be. There is nothing to gain by being confrontational in or outside of the court. 

Physical abuse is the same as verbal abuse. 

When the kids come home, and start telling you stories of the other parents lifestyle or comments made about you, the first instinct may be to address those comments or issues.

Before you know it, you’re yelling and screaming at the messenger (your children) as if you were talking (argueing) directly with your ex. 

Talking rudely or insanely to your children while in a bad mood will not impress anyone and may work against you winning a custody battle. 

Always calm your temper and talk only when you can talk nicely. In this case, you should always put children as a priority and be in their shoes so that you can easily feel what they are feeling while you are going through the court process. 

A parent with a history of physical or verbal abuse is likely to lose custody since the courts will want children to grow in a safe and positive environment. 

5. Inappropriate Dressing 

While in court, you should always try to make a positive impression. The outfit you wear should be neutral and conservative. Numerous piercings and tattoos can cause concerns and distract the judge from neutral unbiased decisions.


Avoid any slogans on shirts, caps, or even a button. Projecting your thoughts or opinions on strongly debated topics like politics, religion, environment, or any other divisive cause may have you at odds with the court without even knowing it. 

If you are a woman, you should wear clothes that fit you well and choose colors wisely. 

Wearing tights, see-through, or mini-skirts may be an indication that you don’t care about the feelings of other people or respect the institutions and persons handling your case. 

Consider researching online sources to get ideas on matters relating to clothing in the courtroom. 

As strange as it may sound, I find that television shows and movies can be a good gauge to follow for appropriate style in the courtroom.

Favorably, a skirt suit in dark colors and flat shoes are preferred since they do not communicate anything negative to the judge. You will be seen as organized and respectful and that is a great milestone when it comes to impressing the judge at first sight. 

almost got it…. close

For men, a well-ironed dark suit is a good outfit. Also, ensure that you are well-groomed and avoid saggy trousers and dark glasses. If you don’t own a suit, there are many options to rent one, just like a tuxedo for your wedding. 

Keep in mind, after a few rentals at $30 to $50 dollars, you could have owned one for the same cost. Even if you have to borrow one, a suit does make a difference in how serious the court takes you… and your case.

If a suit is unavailable, men should still wear a collared shirt, with tie if possible, dress pants and shoes.

It is important to note, any kind of inappropriate dressing may send negative impressions to the judge and that can be detrimental to your child custody case. 

6. Getting a New Partner

It is not a good idea to move in with a new partner when battling a child custody case. It is good to take time and settle on the child custody issues first. Remember, the children may be affected by who comes into your life even before things can be settled properly. You don’t want to bring confusion to the children during this tough period, or give your ex something to complain about.

When the judges are determining what is best for the children, they can take into account the fact that you have moved in with a new partner and how that affects the life of the children. The judges will want to know that the environment you provide for the kids is not chaotic and unproven. 

The court will almost always lean toward the household with stable routines, schedules and little surprises.  This will also depend on the age of the children, and how they relate with the new partner. 

Therefore, after separating or divorcing your spouse, it is important to consider what will come next. 

Avoid rushing things… Allow some time for the court to determine your case, and also time for your children to get over the emotional state of separation. 

This will not just work best in the courtroom but also for the children’s emotional and psychological well-being

7. Neglecting Parental Responsibility 

After separation, you don’t cease to be a parent , so don’t neglect your normal responsibilities.

Co-operate with your ex-spouse and continue to do all the things you normally did with the kids. You should always know how the children are doing, what they need, and reassure them when they have concerns. 

If you normally take them to school, continue to do so; If Friday nights are normally dinner out and a movie night, try to keep that tradition going, until there is a legitimate issue to cause it to change.

A parent who neglects parental responsibility is very likely to lose a child custody battle. 

If you have made an agreement with your ex regarding how to raise or provide for the children as you go about the custody battle, always be available and meet your assigned responsibility. The parental responsibility, in this case, comes in form of: 

Child support 

This refers to the payments that each parent is obliged to contribute for the welfare of the child or children

Including school fees, healthcare, food, clothing, and other needs. Therefore, if you have made prior agreements with your ex to support the children’s welfare, don’t fail to honor your agreements as that may work against you when battling your custody case. 


Never be late for your visitation or picking up the child or children. Also, drop the children off at the right time without being late. This is a show that you are a responsible parent

Even if it’s upsetting to see your Ex, regular visits will also show your concern for your children. That is easier if you and your former spouse are living near each other. Missing visits with your children is something that you should avoid especially if you are facing a custody battle. 

Neglecting your parental responsibility is a sign that you may also neglect responsibilities if you are granted custody of the child or children. The court may, therefore, rule in favor of your ex since this is fundamental to parenting. 


These are just the 7 things that you should not do when battling a child custody case. There are many others, but we hope we have covered the crucial ones. 

It doesn’t matter whether it is inside or outside the courtroom, It is important to stay vigilant so that you don’t find yourself on the awkward side of the case. Do everything with sobriety and common sense so that in the end, the child’s or children’s best interests win.