Divorce can be extremely difficult on everyone involved, but it can hit children the hardest. When you are trying to keep things as pleasant as possible for your kids during a divorce, your efforts can be sabotaged by an ex who doesn’t fight fair. If you are ever in a situation like this, here are some do’s and don’ts for dealing with your ex throughout the custody battle
Do Keep a Diary and Record Any Abusive or Inappropriate Behavior
If you are dealing with an ex-spouse who is not treating your children well or is being abusive to you in any way, keep a diary where you track every single incident. Report any suspected child abuse directly to the authorities, but also record the issues in a log. Your family law attorney can also offer specific advice about the unique conflicts you may be facing.
You should also save any communication that is inappropriate or violent. If your ex leaves you expletive-filled voice messages, save them. If they write you angry emails, print these letters out. Save written correspondences by copying them and keeping the originals in a safe place. Most importantly, instead of responding to these confrontations in the same abusive manner, take the high road and communicate without returning the hostility that is directed at you.
Don’t Talk Negatively to Your Kids About the Other Parent
No matter how angry you are at your ex, it is extremely important to avoid talking negatively to your children about their other parent. Even if your children directly ask you questions about how you perceive your ex, you should try to keep your responses as fair and objective as possible. You don’t have to praise your ex, but it is a mistake to berate them. This self-control should include avoiding talking about your ex’s new partner or even your ex’s religion.
Why not just be brutally honest about your opinion, you might ask? The Washington Post reported on a case where a mother had her custody temporarily compromised because she allowed one child to talk negatively about the other parent’s religion to his or her siblings. The ruling caused a great deal of controversy and was eventually overturned, but it still meant a lot of unnecessary headache for the family.
To be on the safe side, a good idea might be to have a no-tolerance rule for talking bad about your ex at home. If you find your children headed in a negative direction when talking about your ex, redirect the conversation. This is the best way to not only teach your children to be pleasant in general, but also decrease the possibility of legal complications caused by negative gossiping.
Don’t Exclude Your Ex from Activities Involving Your Children
Your ex can make it seem like you are not acting in the best interests of your child if you don’t allow the other parent to play an active role in the lives of their children. Therefore, if your former partner wants to know the dates and times of sports practices and dance recitals to support your kids in these endeavors, it’s important to give them that information.
If the schools your children attend primarily communicate with only you, you should keep your former spouse adequately informed until you can work out a way for the schools to communicate equally with both of you. In addition to this, keep a record of all the inclusive, positive things you do to encourage your ex to play an active role in your kids’ life: this can help protect you from potential accusations later on.
Do Prepare Yourself to Communicate Kindly and Respectfully in Court
In a child custody case, you may get discouraged by how much of the situation is out of your control, but it’s vitally important to stay focused on the things that you have a say in, such as how you appear in court. To help improve your court appearance, your family and divorce attorney can help you discern the best way to respond to certain triggers that push your buttons.
The biggest mistake a frustrated parent can make is to openly lose their temper when in a court of law. Rehearsing your reactions to certain situations or questions can go a long way in preventing any undesired temper flare-ups from occurring at inopportune times.
Finally, if you’re facing a custody battle for your children, the most important thing to do in general is to consult with an experienced family and divorce attorney as soon as possible. Contact The Lowry Law Firm to make an appointment to talk about your situation with one of our family law experts who can support you in your fight for child custody.