Establishing a custody order and visitation rights are the most grueling parts of a divorce. Negotiating custody can bring up emotional issues and make both parties tense. Although this process is difficult, it's essential that two ex-spouses or co-parents come to an agreement. If they don't, the Pennsylvania courts will decide for them. The result may be a custody order that displeases both parties and ratchets up the tension even more.
When a custody case remains unresolved, and relations are still contentious between the two parties, things can, unfortunately, escalate to violence. Without a custody order or informal agreement in place, one party could step out of line, and the other party would have no redress. A recent incident in Whitehall, Pennsylvania, provides an example of how contested custody disputes can lead to violence.
The Importance of Civility in Custody Cases
Four adults recently attempted to do a custody exchange of one child at a Walmart parking lot in Whitehall. Two of the adults present were the mother and father of the child, and each had another adult with them. According to local reports, the meeting erupted into shouting, and shortly after, witnesses say they heard gunfire. The child's father was shot and injured, and the woman who accompanied him died of her gunshot wounds later that evening.
The man responsible for the shooting had accompanied the mother of the child to the exchange, and he was charged with criminal homicide, attempted criminal homicide and aggravated assault, and carrying a firearm without a license. Each of these charges is a felony.
The Lehigh County District Attorney's office wouldn't give any information about the relationship between the adults and child involved but confirmed it was indeed a custody exchange. We can reasonably assume that the argument that broke out centered on custody issues, or bad relations between the four adults involved. Parties in a custody case must do their utmost to remain civil and level-headed and work to come to an agreement as soon as possible.
How to Remain Civil During a Custody Battle
Of course, “remain civil” is much easier said than done. But certain aggressive or violent behaviors can prevent you from getting custody if the court finds out. When involved in a custody dispute, keep these tips in mind:
- Don't fight with or shout at your ex-spouse, especially in front of your children.
- Don't confront the other party physically, as this could result in a protection order against you.
- Don't criticize the other party in front of anyone, as it could get back to the court.
- Make all child support and spousal support payments required of you.
- Avoid damaging the other party's property.
- Don't prevent your children from seeing their other parent during your scheduled time with them if the other parent has visitation rights.
Helping Families with Contentious Custody Battles
Joseph D. Lento is an experienced family law attorney who helps parents involved in custody disputes. Don't let the custody disagreement turn violent by obtaining a favorable custody order with the help of a qualified attorney. Call Joseph Lento of the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 to discuss your custody case.