A tempestuous relationship with your spouse came to a tempestuous conclusion. A nasty divorce with nasty accusations flung in every direction. And your children are caught in the middle. With loyalties to each parent, they are scared, confused, and, like everyone involved, want to see this storm and its effects go away.
The battle has just begun. And among the critical issues at stake include child custody. For the time being, division of assets and spousal support must take a backseat to child-related matters. Attention shifts to the children in this high-conflict child custody situation. Can a workable child custody agreement come to fruition?
Protect your children, take the high road
Regrettably, drawn-out legal battles, sometimes, are the result of a high-conflict child custody dispute, where compromise is unheard of and hurting the other party seems to be the preference. Your children have witnessed some of these clashes, and you want to shield them from the vitriol.
You do not want this situation to have a lasting effect on your children. Here are some important steps to take in protecting your children in a high-conflict child custody dispute:
- Protect your children: You and their other parent are the adults, so act like adults. Divorce is difficult, especially for children. Prioritize your children’s feelings and concerns. Avoid saying negative things about their other parent as well as sharing hurtful details related to the divorce.
- Protect yourself: Be careful what you say and do around your estranged spouse and make sure to set boundaries. If discussions take place, make sure they occur in a public place and that you have a trusted person accompanying you. It is not a good idea to be alone with your former spouse. And if the harassment and untruths continue via these meetings, phone calls, texts and emails, carefully document them.
- Take the high road: In dealing with your former spouse, you cannot control his or her behavior. However, you can take charge of your own. Avoid heated discussions as well as conversations that may be misinterpreted. You must remember that your children remain the priority and the truth eventually will come out.
- Create a parenting plan: If compromise is possible, do this together with the other parent. Both of you want to remain in the lives of your children, so create a parenting plan that addresses custody and visitation matters as well as when exchanges take place. You may not get everything you want, but, at least, you have the beginnings of a workable plan.
- Seek the advice of a reliable family law attorney: You need an empathetic legal advocate who has dealt with similar situations. An attorney will guide you through the legal system, prepare divorce-related legal documents such as those related to parenting plans and restraining orders. You should gain some relief in knowing that you have a strong ally.
Your children should always take center stage, even when a bitter divorce hovers over them. Child custody matters come to the forefront, too, and you want to ensure that some type of agreement is in place even when working with a less-than-cooperative other parent.