Child Custody battles can bring out heated emotions from both parents. Some manage to control their anger and jealousy, but others turn their feelings into devious actions intended to sway the case in their favor. There are many different tactics that can be used against you in a custody dispute. It is important to recognize when you or your child has been victimized so that you can inform the court of the situation. Here are some common accusations that dishonest parents use.
Perhaps the scariest of all false accusations are ones of child abuse. These can range from neglect to physical or sexual abuse. Making the matter more complicated is the fact that all of these claims are considered criminal activities. It is important for victims of these allegations to document everything they can to prove their innocence. No matter how ridiculous the claim may seem, the court is responsible for investigating any suggestion of child abuse activity.
Inappropriate Social Behavior
Another dirty tactic used against unsuspecting parents are claims involving social behaviors. This encompasses things like infidelity, substance abuse, and questionable relationships. The opposing parent may say that your social activities either cause direct harm to the child or interfere with their growth and development. Innocent parties can protect against this by providing character references, drug test results, and personal logs of social functions they have participated in.
The most common form of leverage that parents try to manipulate is the relationships with their children – so-called “parental alienation“. Many will attempt to coach their child into saying certain things or offer rewards for behavior that alienates the other parent. Any example of this activity can be considered tampering in a child custody case. Parents who believe this is happening in their case should document as much evidence as possible and report it directly to their judge or caseworker.
Unfortunately, custody cases can bring out the worst in some people. Dishonest parents will try to gain any form of an advantage they can, even if it is considered illegal. Anyone who attempts to manipulate the outcome of their case with these methods risks losing their case and being prosecuted for criminal intent. For those who feel they have been victimized by such tactics, the best advice is to keep a record of your daily activities and build a strong network of references to substantiate your innocence.
Importance of Minimizing Communications with Your High-Conflict Ex
There are many excellent reasons why you should minimize contact with your high-conflict ex-spouse/ex-partner. In brief, “low-contact” strategies can improve your overall physical health and well-being, your mental health and well-being, and legally it’s a sound decision that can prevent you from making critical mistakes that can quickly scuttle a solid effort to gain meaningful child custody time with your children. While the FDA hasn’t studied the true health effects of low-contact on one’s physical or mental well-being, it’s important to note that reducing such stressors in your life can have significant health benefits.
It’s true that high-conflict personalities and personality disorders drive much of family court litigation. Those not determined to destroy their targets at any cost are turning to “friendlier” divorces and child custody arrangements such as mediation, negotiations assisted by a family law attorney, and in economies like the one we’re living in today just working it out between them. It’s less costly, it’s child-focused, and it’s just plain smart.
However, there are those folks who find themselves in high-conflict predicaments and simply have no idea what they’re dealing with until they’ve engaged in self-sabotaging behaviors. You find yourself constantly put in a position to defend yourself against seemingly endless false accusations. Your sensibilities get so offended that you respond in kind to a nasty email or voice mail without stopping to think about how that will play out in family court. You’ve lost your focus on what the ultimate goal is. That goal is maximizing your child custody arrangement and ensuring that you’re an important and integral part of your children’s lives until they are adults.
There is no child custody benefit to you gaining “closure.” Nor is there any benefit in getting the last word, trying to convince someone who simply doesn’t care about the truth, or worse one-upping your ex with your own ability to be nasty.
What kind of tips do we have for you in moving towards low-contact and minimizing unnecessary communication with your ex-spouse?
- Counseling or therapy is a great first step in aiding you to come to grips with your situation. Working with such professionals can help keep you and your emotions in check so that they’re not spilling into your communications with your ex-partner.
- You’re no longer friends, lovers, and those things that may have brought you together in the beginning of your relationship cease to exist. You don’t need to check up on your ex-spouse to find out how their day was. Similarly, they don’t need to check up on how you’re doing. With a truly high-conflict ex, these are methods used to get you to let your guard down and can lead to critical mistakes that can impact child custody.
- All of your contact with your ex-partner, both now and in the future, should be relegated to topics regarding the children. Paring the communication down even further, those discussions should only be on important matters pertaining to the children. Those topics may include school, extracurricular activities, medical issues, and similar. They should not be discussions on parenting techniques or giving/getting criticism regarding parenting styles. Eliminate any non-essential contact.
- Other than emergency situations, all of your communications should be done in writing to eliminate straying from the important matter pertaining to the children. It also gives you the necessary time to scrutinize both the inbound email for relevant matters and your outbound mail for unnecessary information, emotional reaction or judgmental language.
It is critical that you approach every communication opportunity you have with your high-conflict ex-wife or ex-husband with the understanding that any communication with them may be used in family court against you. Any time you are about to put something in writing or leave a voice mail for your high-conflict ex-partner, write it with consideration to how a family court judge will view it, especially if you are trying to win custody.
Texas Custody Cases No Longer an Easy Win for Mom
Many of the custody cases that went through the court system in the seventies and eighties were mere formalities. While fathers were given equal opportunity to defend their eligibility as a custodial parent, the general perception was that the mother provided the most nurturing environment for the child. This made it the mother’s case to lose, which only occurred if she was found to be incompetent in her parenting responsibilities.
Much has changed since the years of these biased court decisions. The legal world has come to understand that a father plays a much stronger role in the development of the child than previously accounted for. In fact, some studies have shown that a strong male figure in the household correlates with lower instances of risk behavior in youths. By recognizing the importance of the father during the custody case, the courts have changed the outcome of many cases that would have defaulted to the mother winning custody.
Although the hearing process has become more balanced over time, fathers can still face an uphill battle in instances where both parents offer similar benefits. The modern household features two working parents who balance the responsibilities of paying the bills and monitoring the children. In cases like these, the mother would hold an advantage as societal influences typically lean in the mother’s favor. This brings back some of the gender prejudices found in early custody judgments, but they generally only apply when the separating factors are too close to differentiate.
The most common standards that apply to custody cases deal almost exclusively with the perception of the child’s welfare. Surprisingly, however, they have very little to do with finances. This aspect is handled through the child support system, meaning that the parent with the highest income would be expected to supplement more of the costs associated with raising the kids. This obviously has no effect on which parent they live with. What does come into play is the safety of the primary residence, the career obligations of the custodial parent, and any inconveniences a child might encounter such as changing schools or homes. These factors are often the ones that matter most in the decision process.
The bottom line is that both parents now have equal opportunity to win custody of their children if they can prove their situation best meets the needs of their development. While mothers may have an inherent advantage in the closest cases, fathers who approach the proceedings with adequate evidence in their favor can certainly win a judgment. The court system has turned their focus on custody cases to the well being of the child, opening the doors for a more balanced debate for either parent – regardless of gender.