How to Protect the Kids During Contested Divorce
The fragile dynamic that forms during divorce can change the outcome of custody, support, or equitable distribution. Just when it seems a settlement is on the horizon, the client and the ex-spouse engage in a deal-breaking conflict that throws the divorce into greater disarray. Following a few simple guidelines will help your kids, your sanity and your wallet during a complex or contested divorce.
The Pennsylvania divorce process is adversarial in nature, just by virtue of the legal process. In a contested divorce, things can get very involved very quickly. Following some of these simple considerations can reduce the hostility of contested divorce.
Diagnose your Communication
Stop talking about money. No matter what phase of marriage or divorce a couple is in, money causes tensions to flare. You do not want children to hear these discussions and cause them any worries. If it is a discussion of collecting support, talk to a support attorney about garnishment of wages through an order of support.
Be brief and focus on the facts when you communicate about anything, for that matter. The more you and your ex can collaborate on helping your family, the better the result will be for everyone.
Making Changes to Communication
In highly contested divorce cases, discussions can instantly snowball into arguments. When involved in this type of divorce, communicate through writing. If you have kids, they will be spared many negative emotions by staying out of the loop during the divorce process.
The other obvious benefit from writing to one another is having documentation to maintain throughout the pendency of the case; this will shut down any discrepancies or back-tracking during negotiating a settlement or during equitable distribution.
Once you have evolved your communication to the written form, maintain composure when considering a response. Stay in control and avoid texting-wars or social media battles. You can still work on protecting your kids from what is being said and felt between you and the other parent during the Divorce.
To further that, consider what it is that makes you react. What types of manipulations or language get under your skin? Think first and create a strategy for reacting in front of your children. Your divorce attorney cannot tell you what to say or control your response – but let that be part of your thought process before responding in writing.
Keep the focus on the kids
We cannot emphasize this enough at our office and Pennsylvania custody and divorce laws make this the priority – the best interests of the child are paramount. Keep up a consistent custody schedule that reduces conflict and creates a degree of predictability for the kids. If you do not have a formal custody schedule, a custody attorney can draft a schedule that incorporates the unique aspects of your family’s lifestyle. An uncooperative parent will be bound by the terms once it is entered as an order of court and the kids benefit from knowing what to expect.
Whether it is a concern over physical custody, legal custody or visitation, a custody lawyer can help determine what is feasible and get structure for your kids. It is often the unexpected that causes the most problems - do not interfere with the other parent’s custodial time. Help build up the child’s relationship with the other parent by reducing conflict. Do not show up unannounced at events or activities during the other parent’s custodial time. For more important occasions, stay civil and support your child.
Learn to move on from negativity
This can be an intimidating phase of life and old habits die hard. If fighting and drama has been all-consuming, begin to focus on your own betterment. Set an honorable standard that your kids can look up to and you can be proud of. Don’t try to control what your ex does or try to stay involved in his or her decisions outside of your kids. You may no longer be married but the children should benefit from combined efforts of positive, respectful parenting.