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Divorce: Uncoupling and the Courts
Many times when a divorce happens, one of the parties will try to control the other through court orders. This means an ongoing court battle. If you are successful with getting the court to order the behavior of another, you will need to keep going back to court to have the order enforced. There are no court order police (other than the judge) and if someone is trying to gain independence and you keep thwarting those efforts, they may stop one behavior, but ultimately will just switch to a different behavior. That will make you crazy in a never ending, money sucking, exchange with the Family Court System.
Why do people rely on the court system to try to change their ex? Well, sometimes the relationship was a codependent one and this couple really struggles with uncoupling, even though at least one of the parties really wants the split. Sometimes, a parent doesn’t like the parenting style of the other and they think that they can make the other parent behave as they wish they would.
Now the crazy thing about all of this is that if you are divorcing someone because you didn’t like their behavior when they lived with you and you couldn’t change that behavior when you were under the same roof, how on earth do you think you can change their behavior when you rarely see them anymore? You can’t. You have to accept that you cannot change another person’s behavior. You can only change your own. That is where you should focus.
The reality is that if you split with someone that you didn’t have children with, you would have to accept it and move on because if the other person decided they were done with you, they would be gone and not have to deal with you. Even if you called, emailed or wrote letters to them, they could just ignore you and eventually you would get the message that they have moved on and you would realize it was time to move on, too. The court wouldn’t help you because the matters would have been brought to finality.
Unfortunately when people with children divorce, they are still tied to each other for life. They are both always the parents of these children, no matter how much one or both of you would prefer that were not the case. Don’t go trying to find a new Mommy or Daddy for little Johnny or Debbie. You just can’t make it true, you can’t replace the other parent and you can’t force your children to want to replace Mommy or Daddy with your new love interest.
Uncoupling is difficult. There is no doubt about it. You try to break away from that person you used to love (and maybe still do in some ways), but then, there they are. You also will hear the court talk about co parenting and how you two have to get along and raise these kids together. Some will wonder, we didn’t raise them together before without fighting, why would we do so now? It can start to mess with your mind a bit. You start to feel helpless and decide I am doing all I can so if he/she will just change, then it will all be alright. I wanted them to change when we were married and now the court will make them change. This is where things will start going a little haywire.
It is easier to look at what the other parent is doing wrong than to look at your own behavior. It’s easy to read things into their behavior and make assumptions. When you are not talking to that other person and they will not share their plans or feelings, you may start to fill in the blanks. You start thinking that you know why they behave x, y or z way. You start thinking you know how to fix them. You start thinking that court orders are the answer and then really crazy, unrealistic court orders start flying around, on both sides.
Most of these court orders aren’t worth the paper they are printed on because they are unenforceable. You find it too hard to accept that this is how things are going to be and think that you can use the court system to turn the other person into who it is you want them to be. If your goal is to keep this person chained to you until your children are 18 and you want to throw away a lot of money, go for it. If not, work on yourself. What will you do when the children turn 18 and you can’t keep going to court? Better to change the way you relate now. You’ll have to do it later anyway.
You have to start with accepting that you are two individuals and you have different ways of thinking, parenting and living. Realize that you would be much better off finding a relationship with someone who actually is the person who is compatible with you and stop trying to make someone who doesn’t want to change fit your mold. Also, don’t try to fit someone else’s mold. Happiness depends on you being free to be yourself.
If you aren’t real about who you are, you will try to fit the other person’s mold and agree to things that really aren’t in your best interests or your children’s best interests. You may try to become a model parent to please the family court. This will not work in the long run because if you are not being who you are, you will not be able to keep up the facade.
All parents make mistakes, but only in the court system are we so mercilessly judged for them. It is best for children when parents are consistent in their parenting styles, but in my opinion, it is best to be who you are. Your children know and love you already so continue to be the parent you have always been. Allow the children their happiness with the other parent. They should not have to hide their love and concern for the other parent because of your struggle with uncoupling.
See a therapist. Anyone who uses the court as an ongoing weapon really needs therapy more than the court system. If you are the one who has the court system used as a weapon against you, you also need therapy. Don’t fear it. It won’t make people think you are crazy. No one even has to know you are seeing a therapist if you are uncomfortable with admitting it. The therapist will help you start to look at you and they will help you with uncoupling. Once you get a great understanding of who you are and what your needs are then you can start moving forward. At that point, someone like me, can help you form a strategy to get to where you want to go, whether it is finding a new job or dating or some other goal you have.
I always have the goal of helping people get unstuck in life. It is like being in prison when you are so paralyzed with fear that you cannot go from point A to point B because of the judgment that comes with being stuck in the Family Court System. The answers you seek will not be found in court orders. The healing of your heart will not be found in Family Court. I know of no one stuck in the court system who isn’t completely stressed out and devastated. Unless you want to wait until your children turn 18, you have to get unstuck on your own. You can do that, and i
f you get fed up enough, you will do that. If you need the name of a good therapist, contact me and I can give you some names. Remember, I’m always happy to help you move away from the court and a bad relationship, too.
About lifesdoorsmediationI am a mediator, Life and Divorce Coach and an Instructor of a High Conflict Divorce Program.
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