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3 things to keep in mind in a child custody dispute

Divorce is immensely difficult for all parties involved, and sometimes divorcing spouses do and say things that they otherwise wouldn't.

Here are some important matters to keep in mind if you are a parent going through divorce.

1. Alabama courts frown on parental alienation.

What is parental alienation? It's when one parent tries to turn the children against the other parent. For example, a parent may be engaging in parental alienation if he or she speaks disparagingly to the kids about the other parent or lies to the children about the other parent. Parental alienation can also involve simply denying the other parent access to the kids.

Make no mistake: parental alienation harms children, and courts have begun to recognize parental alienation as a form of child abuse. If you believe the other parent is engaging in this kind of behavior, talk to your family law attorney about the problem. Also, it's important to understand that the court will not consider failure to pay child support a valid reason to deny the paying parent access to the child.

2. Misuse of social media can have a negative impact on child custody determinations.

Increasingly, courts in Alabama consider information on social media to be evidence in family law matters. If you are going through a child custody dispute -- or even if you and the other parent have agreed to decide on these matters amicably -- it is important to avoid making social media posts or comments that could be seen as detrimental to your case.

For example, the court is not likely to look favorably on pictures of you and your new boyfriend or girlfriend; nor is it a good idea to publicly bad-mouth or fight with the other parent (or other people) on social media. The better course of action may be to take a break from social media or be sure to only engage with it in a very measured way.

Also, speak with your attorney if you believe the other parent's use of social media is inappropriate.

3. Avoid using your children as messengers.

Calmly communicating with the other parent may seem impossible at times, but it is important to avoid expressing complaints or making requests through your children. Kids can become tangled up in parental disputes when the parents use the children as messengers. Too often, this results in short- and long-term emotional strife -- and trust issues -- for the kids.

If you are having a difficult time communicating with the other parent, talk to your family lawyer about effective means of communication in these matters.

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