Every judge in every county and attorneys observe certain cases where the parents cannot agree on anything and are constantly in court post-divorce as it relates to children. The miracle of courts is it allows a dispute to be resolved when every other institution and solution fails. But it exacts a price on the parents, judges and lawyer—and ultimately the children. Litigation rarely is in the children’s best interests if there is another solution.
Some serious and prolonged litigation is rooted in miscommunication and perceptions of parents that can be avoided or minimized at that time or in the future by a few simple tasks. This blog post explores three of the best examples. First, if there is dispute about times, dates, attendance, keep a journal. Human memory is fallible. A journal can refresh your memory and aid in resolving issues before they get to court. If court is necessary, the events in a journal is helpful to construct a timeline of events in dispute, helping the judges understand and implement orders that have solutions.
Second, the same attributes that attracted one person to another in the first place can be a major source of contention later, such as timely or untimely. Or organized or less organized. In the stress of parenting conflict, it is often the case that it magnifies a problem more so than it is. This is where an objective friend or therapist may be able to help you come to a resolution outside of court. Ask them, in their objective opinion, should you let it slide or accept it?
For instance, a punctual parent to a drop off or pick up (the same pattern with other events in the marriage), may perceive it as intentional or sign of denying parenting time when the other parent is chronically late, when in reality, it is who the person is at a fundamental level, not an intentional attempt to interfere with parenting time and other plans. Thus, accounting for and accepting this may be better than long-term litigation. There is little a judge or attorney can do to change this.
Equally, a parent who was untidy during the marriage probably stays the same after divorce. In this case, sometimes the other parent later views this as being unsanitary and unhealthy for the children. Messy and un-kept is not dirty. This is something that you must be sure of before you go to court or it will alienate the other parent more and likely fail, wasting judicial time and money and further entrenching the other parent in their way.
Third, and more specifically and to a reoccurring issue, relates parents who are hyper-vigilant as parents, or “helicopter parents.” When the parents do not share this view, it may lead to the situation where the hyper-vilglant parent observes bruises or normal childhood injuries and view this as abuse or neglect. This is where self-education and a frank (non-leading) conversation with a pediatrician will help. The sure way to lose ground in a custody dispute is to make an allegation of abuse or neglect when the injuries are normal childhood injuries (abuse and neglect ordinarily have specific patterns or other identifiers readily known to professionals).
Pick you legal battles and court only when you have fully considered the matter in an objective, non-emotional way.
This blog was written by attorneys at Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. who practice divorce law and handle custody disputes cases throughout the state of Indiana. This blog is not intended as specific legal advice or a solicitation for services. It is best thought of as advertising.