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Common child custody pitfalls

As courts in Maryland and other states increasingly begin to favor joint child custody arrangements, it has become easier for parents to win partial custody. While judges nearly always ruled in favor of mothers in the past, most now make their decisions based on which custody option serves the best interest of the child in question. One study found that fathers trying to secure primary child custody are successful around 50 percent of the time. However, experts say there are still major mistakes parents frequently make that put them at risk for losing custody.

For instance, if you are not sufficiently involved in your child's academic and extracurricular affairs, a judge may decide that you are not a suitable primary caretaker. Be sure to show the judge that your priority is your child's welfare by demonstrating an active engagement in the child's life. Talk with your child's teachers, supervise school events and attend conferences with school administrators to show your dedication.

Another common mistake is to attack the other parent in court. While emotions can flare during hearings, it is important to demonstrate self-control in the courtroom. Respecting the other parent makes you look more mature and capable and will show the judge that you support your child's relationship with his or her other parent, and thus have his or her best interests in mind. You should also avoid sending disparaging voicemails, text messages or e-mails to the other parent, as these can later be used as evidence against you.

Many parents ignore the advice of their legal representatives. It is important to remember that attorneys are professionals with the comprehensive legal knowledge needed to provide you with effective advice and help you secure custody of your child.

Source: Huffington Post, "How to Lose Child Custody," Jacqueline Harounian, Dec. 12, 2011

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