Normal parents love their children more than life itself. Typical parents make sacrifices so their children can have a better life than they themselves have or had.
Unfortunately, it’s easy to lose perspective about what’s best for children in a divorce. Emotions and tensions run high and are very challenging to control.
All too often in extreme anxiety, it can be easy to have wrong perceptions about the motives of the other side when it comes to
Virtually all family law judges will tell the parents in court that it is much better for their children if they work together for the children to develop a parenting plan rather than the court make decisions. The truth is that no matter how much time the judge may have devoted to reading your file or hearing testimony, he or she in reality, is a stranger to you and your family. Even with the guidance of training, the law, and even psychological experts, no one know your children better than you.
The more parents fight, the more stress on the children. The more the parents engage in high conflict behavior, the harder the divorce is on the children.
The takeaway is to avoid conflict, when possible. Conflict often arises between two good parents who dearly love their children but cannot get along with the other parent. In this situation, it is not uncommon for people to completely distort the motives of the other parent in their own mind, and can even be resentful if others fail to see the other parent through their lens.
Co-parenting classes or therapy can often be a useful tool in these situations to help parents learn how to put their emotions aside and learn to put the interests of the children at the forefront. The goal here is for parents to get to a point where they focus on the children and away from each other so then can work together toward the common goal they both truly share, i.e. raising their children with their values and ideals.
Mediation can also be a helpful tool. California law requires the parties to see a mediator if they open their case without an agreed upon parenting plan. The court will provide mediation services without charge. However, the court provided mediators are very limited on time and may not be able to devote enough resources to the case to help the parties work out disagreements or make effective recommendations to the Court. The parties can, with the Court’s consent, opt for private mediation. Private mediation can be expensive, but often in the long run can avoid a lot of conflict, and legal fees, later.
Of course, conflict cannot always be avoided. If a parent is abusive (physically, emotionally, or otherwise), or if the other parent abuses substances (legal or illegal), then conflict may be necessary to protect the child. Parents often spend an hour expressing how bad the other parent is and then say, “...but, I want my child to have a relationship with him/her...I’m not trying to keep him/her out of their lives...” The reality is that kids need positive and loving role models. They are better off without both parents in their lives if a parent is toxic.
In conflict cases...
- do not expect any cooperation from the other parent or his/her family and friends
- expect the other side to lie or at least exaggerate
- do not treat the other side with disrespect no matter how rude or obnoxious they are to you
- always obey all court orders
- do not call law enforcement unless absolutely necessary
- always make an effort to resolve conflicts before seeking court intervention
- keep logs and records of schedules, activities, communications, etc.
- always tell the truth
Do not be surprised if you have to appear in court. If you are the type that hates conflict and has a difficult time in high conflict situations, ask your divorce attorney for a referral to a therapist. Your divorce attorney will prepare you for litigation and the hearing but he or she cannot help you with the emotions and stress that exists outside the courtroom.