Custody: 27 Dumb Mistakes to avoid!

In my 22 years as a Child Custody Lawyer in Rhode Island Family Court, I have seen many mothers and fathers make dumb decisions during the course of divorce or custodial proceedings.  Prevailing in your Rhode Island child custody battle may be more about the mistakes that you avoid rather then the actions that you take. This article was authored by Rhode Island child custody attorney, David Slepkow. David is also a RI divorce lawyer.

Winning your Rhode Island Child Custody case by not making a dumb mistake!

custodial law in RI

Rhode Island child custody attorney

The absurd and over the top actions described in this Rhode Island family law post, may impede your chances of obtaining placement of your child in Providence Family Court. These examples, set forth below, are ridiculous decisions that I have witnessed in Rhode Island Family Court.



  1. Do not post inappropriate material on social networks such as Facebook, Twitter or Pintrest. Any post which indicates that you use illegal drugs or otherwise do not exhibit good moral character, should be avoided. Your adversary in the RI divorce or custody case may be reviewing and copying your postings. A Facebook friend may be feeding crucial info to your ex-spouse or ex-girlfriend or even re-tweeting the post.
  1. It is a very stupid idea to post negative content about anyone involved, in any way, in the Providence Family Court custody matter.
  2.  Avoid expensive purchases or lavish trips when you are claiming you cannot afford RI child support. Also avoid these expenses when you are behind / in arrears of your child support obligations. These lavish expenditures may indicate to the Rhode Island Family Court Justice or General Magistrate that your failure to pay child support is willful and in bad faith.
  1.  Do not blog about your case. Custody cases should be litigated in Providence Family Court  or Kent County Family Court not on a blog or legal website.
  2. Do not make stupid arguments in your court proceedings. These silly musings may hurt your credibility, waste important Court resources and anger the judge. 8 Arguments that Don’t work in Rhode Island Family Court
  1. Do not Coach your kids. Children are not good at lying especially to a seasoned Providence Family Court Justice. A malicious attempt to coach your minor child often backfires when the child informs the custody investigator about the wrongful and insidious coaching. The judge or custodial investigator (guardian ad litem) usually asks the child what the parents have told the child. Your child is not your friend or trusted sidekick in your Kent County Family Court proceedings. Coaching a child is emotional abuse and confusing to your child or children.
  1.  Do not send inappropriate text messages, emails, Instagrams, tweets or voice messages.  These communications will be displayed to the Providence Family Court Judge. If you send such communications, you will be on a fast track to losing the case.
  2. Pretend that everything is being taped. Parents often tape the other parent secretly.
  1. Do not make disparaging commentary about the other parent while the child is present. These negative remarks may be detrimental to your children. They also exhibit to the Rhode Island Family Court Magistrate or General Magistrate that you don’t care about your child’s emotional well-being.
  2.  Do not send drug, alcohol or chemically induced communications, text messages or tweets.
  3. Do not Use Illegal Drugs. At any time during the Case you may be subject to drug testing. If you test positive you may end up with supervised visitation. It may also impede your chances of physical custody of your child.
  4. Do not get involved in disagreements, allegations or act rudely towards the people who influence decisions in your case. You want these people to respect you and empathize with you on a personal level. Trashing the people who are influential in deciding your case is a bad idea. This specifically includes Psychiatrists, Psychologists and the person who supervises your visits. In one case, a woman and her husband slammed down their fist, became enraged and started shouting at the psychologist.
  5. Do not write inappropriate letters to your child about the Custody Case. People do this. I can’t make this stuff up.
  6. Do not refuse to provide ordered visits or fail to pay child support pursuant to valid Court orders. This just makes you look bad and can change the focus of the Providence Family Court Custody case. If you disagree with your visitation schedule, then you need to file a motion.
  7. Do not appear for your Rhode Island Family Court hearing over-dosed on prescription medications.
  8.  Do not fail to show up for the other parents supervised visit without good cause and without calling RI Family Services and the other parent. (Unless there is a restraining order)
  9. Do not introduce the child to a new girlfriend or boyfriend while the cause of action is proceeding. It is particularly bad if this new flame has a criminal record, history of drug problems or a dcyf record.
  10. Do not have overnight visitors of the opposite sex while the children are home. The Custody case is complicated enough and there is no need to get other people involved in the case.
  11. Do not buy the child a huge gift the day before or the day of his interview with the judge. This looks like bribery to a judge. However, gamesmanship is a good idea. There is nothing wrong with a day at the amusement park the day before the meeting with the judge. Gamesmanship is okay. Bribery is not okay.
  12. Do not leave the state without informing other parent of where you are going and when you will be returning. You must also provide contact Information.
  13. Do not engage in confrontations with the other parent. Steer clear of these dangerous confrontations and inform you attorney. These confrontations often lead to restraining order complaints protection from abuse. Even if the confrontation is not physical and relatively harmless, the other parent may blow it out of proportion and use it to get an unfair advantage by pursuing a restraining order or instituting  criminal charges. Allegations of domestic violence could destroy your chances of getting physical placement or joint custody of your Child in Rhode Island Family Court .

Important Rhode Island Family Law tip:

Many people use the term “full custody.” This is not a legal term. Legal custody pertains to decision making and access to records and is either Joint Custody to both parents or Sole Custody to one parent. Physical Custody is where the child resides on a day to day basis and the other parent has visitation rights. There is also shared physical placement.