CUSTODY BATTLEGROUNDS:

WHAT TO DO WHEN THE KIDS ARE BEING USED AS A WEAPON

 

War is Hell.  Divorce is War.  Therefore Divorce is Hell.

It doesn’t have to be that way, but with ever-increasing frequency that seems to be the way that it is.  And nowadays, the most pitched battles are being fought over the issue of custody.  This is sad and also dangerous, because nowhere in the divorce arena are the stakes higher or the consequences of a wrong result more heart-wrenching.  But what do you do when your soon-to-be ex is using the children like weapons of individual destruction?

Don’t Fight Fire With Fire.

First of all, stay grounded in the principal that the kids come first.  Although it might be tempting, don’t trash the other parent with your children, not even in self-defense.  Instead, be patient.  When talking with adults, children have a way of inadvertently disclosing what is really going on (“Daddy said this” or “Mommy told me that”), and both custody evaluators and divorce court judges do tend to notice.  Like in the story of the Judgment of Solomon, in the end the parent who demonstrates true concern for the well-being of the child tends to get rewarded.

Gather Reinforcements.

Don’t settle for the classic stalemate of “He Said, She Said,” thereby leaving it to the judge to guess who might be telling the truth.  You need to enlist some allies instead.  Keep in mind that testimony from a family member or even a close friend has to overcome a strong presumption of bias, and therefore you need to search for allies from impartial vectors as well.  Typically, an abundant supply of reinforcements is available if you just know where to look.  Think in terms of school, church, sports, clubs, activities, and even healthcare providers.  One positive word from such an unbiased emissary is worth an hour of testimony from your mom.

The Shield Is Mightier Than The Sword.

Locating impartial witnesses who know that you are a good parent is one thing; getting them to support your cause is another.  The key here consists of understanding that a good defense is the best offense.  Don’t try to get little Lisa’s pediatrician to say that the other parent is awful; all you need are his observations of how caring and concerned he has witnessed you being during the visits with your child.  Remember, you’re building bunkers here, not bombs.

Prepare Your Ammunition.

When it comes to proving that you are a loving and nurturing parent involved in your child’s life and critical to her future development and well-being, you already have a huge store of firepower in reserve.  All you have to do is to access your email accounts and photo libraries.  When checking email, don’t settle for items from your inbox where you are just one of the parents listed on a mass distribution (often including your spouse).  Instead, go to your sent items.  Just one sent email where you are responding to the team mom to the effect that “Johnny is really looking forward to the game this weekend” and “I’ll be bringing the snacks” is worth a dozen received emails announcing upcoming events in which you may or may not have ever participated.  Similarly, with photographs, don’t rely solely on what you can locate in your smart phone.  Typically, you took those photographs and therefore are not in them.  Instead, scour the libraries of your friends and family for shots that show you happily engaged in the event or activity alongside your kids.

Recruit An Aide-De-Camp.

This may be your first foray on the battleground of divorce; you need an experienced hand to advise you.  We’ve helped scores of parents avoid the endless minefields and obtain their fair share of custody, and we can help you too.  Call Inter-State at (520) 882-2723 and let us supply the strategy and resources that both you and your children need to achieve a successful resolution.

–  Charlie Grant