Sexual Freedom Legal Defense and Education Fund

Do's and Don't's to Avoid Custody Challenges

  1. Cultivate relationships with all grandparents.
  2. Do your best to stay on good terms with ex-partners/spouses.
  3. Keep your sex life off the Internet. Don't blog, create webpages, or post to open or archived lists about sexually explicit material.
  4. Build connections with the mundane world. Play groups, Hebrew or church schools, Mom's Clubs, La Leche.
  5. When visitation or shared custody is in place, keep a log of all interactions with your former partner regarding the children.
  6. Be flexible: don't unreasonably limit visitation. There's no faster way of provoking a custody suit. Don't refuse to take care of your kids because "I'm not her babysitter!" Cooperate with your former partner to both of your benefit.
  7. In the event of disagreement, use alternative dispute resolution such as mediation if you can't work it out by yourselves.
  8. If it looks as if litigation is inevitable, don't try to slug it out on your own. There is help available. SFLDEF, NCSF, ACLU, swinging organizations, naturist clubs and so on may be able to provide expert witnesses, funding, referrals, etc.
  9. DON'T ignore anything you get certified mail or from a sheriff. It could be a notice of a hearing on custody, and if you don't show up you lose.
  10. Comply with court orders. To the letter. Promptly. If you refuse, you may a) lose custody or unsupervised visitation; b) be fined or go to jail; c) become a fugitive. There is no faster way to lose custody than to anger a judge by flouting his or her orders.
  11. Pay your child support. Fully and on time. Judges frown on people who don't support their children.
  12. If you have custody, think twice before you seek to enforce or modify child support orders. Be aware that, all too often, the non-custodial parent responds to a request for more or back child support by seeking custody. "If I have to pay that much, I'll raise them myself!" It may be wise to let sleeping dragons lie.
  13. Where there is any doubt which of multiple male partners is the father of a baby, get DNA paternity testing early. Knowledge is power and it is far easier to get everyone to cooperate when everyone is delighted about the birth.
  14. Put all custody/visitation/agreements in writing.
  15. Keep your sex life separate from your parenting.
  16. If you are considering adding another person to your household, get a criminal record check. "See how careful we were?"
  17. Be scrupulous about obvious things like inoculations, home-schooling requirements, etc. There may be controversy about vaccinations, but where alternative sexual expression may be an issue it is unwise to give additional ammunition to those who might seek to deprive you of custody. Err on the side of compliance.

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