Does Bad Behavior or Character Impact Your Custody Trial?

Child custody is one of the most important family law matters you will have to navigate. As a parent who is going through a custody battle, you may wonder if your child's parent's character can have an impact on your negotiations. When you have split from your partner and you have concerns about his or her character and past behaviors, you should let your attorney know about those qualities right away. It could have an impact on how your custody arrangements play out. Here is what you need to know:

Does Character Matter?

In many cases, evidence pertaining to character is not admissible in civil trials as past behavior is not always indicative of future behavior. When it comes to custody, however, a judge may listen to character evidence because it can show he or she may not be suitable for custody of your child. If you have reason to believe your former partner's behavior and character traits may negatively impact your child, you need to let your attorney know so he or she can bring it up during the custody trial.

What Type of Character Traits Could Impact Your Custody?

You have to be careful if you intend to bring up the character traits of your child's other parent during a custody trial. The traits and past behaviors have to be bad enough for a judge to decide in your favor. Some common examples include the regular use of abusive language, abusive behavior, drug or alcohol dependence, and the like.

There are some additional character traits you also should consider that may not seem so obvious. This includes financial irresponsibility, not filing tax returns, infidelity, or perjury in court.

Does the Timing of the Behavior Matter?

If you intend to bring up past behaviors and character traits as a means to gain an ideal custody arrangement, you should be sure to focus primarily on the most recent occurrences. For instance, if your former partner committed shoplifting a decade ago, the judge may not factor that behavior into your custody trial if there have been no instances of shoplifting or other nefarious behaviors since. However, if your former partner recently was in jail for drug abuse, chances are those charges will have a negative impact on the outcome of the custody trial.

Behavior and character traits can impact your custody negotiations. If you believe your former partner should not have custody based on his or her character or bad behavior, you should speak to your family law attorney right away.