Winning in Court: Are You Asking or Just Complaining?
I often hear people complain about the court not helping them, but if you ask what it is they want the court to do, they don’t have an answer right away. They have to think about it. Then they’ll say something like, well, my ex is abusive and so the visitation should be supervised, or I should really have sole custody because my ex is unstable, has a personality disorder, is mentally ill, yada, yada, yada.
Ok, well, if those things are true, it sounds like something the court should hear. Has a motion been filed? You can complain all day, but without action behind it, nothing will change. I talk a lot about moving forward. Complaining does not do anything to move things along. If you are saving up all your ammo waiting for the next time your ex takes you to court, then you should stop complaining until you are ready to take action. If you prefer to not take action because you don’t want to pay an attorney, stop right now. That may be a wise choice. If it is not bad enough that you will pay any price, then it is not something you should really worry about and it is time to stop complaining and move forward in life. Move beyond the family court and enjoy your life as a single parent with all the opportunities that holds. Go after that new career. Go after a new love. Have fun dating. Have fun with your friends. Have fun with your children. Do the things that make you feel good! Put the Family Court behind you and stop focusing on your ex. They will have the life they choose. It does not’t matter if you like their new path or not, just as it does not’t matter if they like your new path or not, the marriage is over. Why waste time on them anymore?
However, if the things you say about the other parent are true, you need to ask for supervised visitation or sole custody. There is no better time to do it than right now. Bitching and moaning will not get you there. You will not get these things without asking the court for it. Many people complain to their Parenting Consultant, Parenting Time Expediter or Guardian ad Litem. This will not do any good. A Parenting Consultant has a lot of power, but no one other than the judge can decide custody. The others can make recommendations to the judge. That is all. If they don’t like you, they will make that apparent to the judge so you need to be careful when talking to these court authorities. If all you do is complain and bad mouth the other parent, they will have a negative opinion of you. That negativity shows in their court recommendations and possibly carries over to the judge. These people are not your friends. The smartest thing you can do is complain to your real friends and family and stay business like with all court officials. It will save a lot of headaches and heartaches down the road. I’ll be writing more about communicating with Court Authorities in another post so stay tuned!
I have listened to some Family Court horror stories. As a matter of fact, I have stories of my own to tell. One thing I have learned is that the court gets frustrated with the complainers. I think they just might possibly be making your life miserable to try to force you to take action. As you can understand, they can’t issue any order on your case if no one is asking them to. If you go in to the judge and your court papers are full of complaints, but offer no remedies, what can the court do? Stop beating around the bush and tell them what you want with a clear argument why they have to rule your way on it.
There are procedures that need to be followed. Not to mention, if your attorney files papers that are full of complaints without a request for a remedy, you have a very incompetent attorney. It is seriously time for a new one! Here is an example of working against your and your children’s best interests: Your ex files for sole custody, he argues that you are mentally ill. You decide that you should file for joint custody. You want to be fair. You don’t want to take the children away from the other parent like they are trying to do to you. Oh, how noble of you! You just lost your case. Why? Because you will most likely complain about how difficult your ex is to communicate with and how badly they’ve treated you. That in itself is a huge mistake. You want to talk about how your children have suffered, not how you have suffered! The other issue is that the other parent wants sole custody and they are telling the court why you are an unfit parent. The typical response from a complainer is to seek joint custody because of whatever fear it is that makes you too afraid to ask for sole custody. You will then lay out for the judge why you are not all the things that the other party said you were. Ok, well, if you don’t need defending, why defend yourself? It makes it sound like your ex is telling the truth. Plus you just put it in the judge’s mind that you are bad for the second time! Most likely you will have numerous complaints about the other parent cooperating with you. This is a big problem because what the court looks at in the statute where joint custody is sought is here:
Subd. 2.Factors when joint custody is sought. In addition to the factors listed in subdivision 1, where either joint legal or joint physical custody is contemplated or sought, the court shall consider the following relevant factors: (a) the ability of parents to cooperate in the rearing of their children; (b) methods for resolving disputes regarding any major decision concerning the life of the child, and the parents’ willingness to use those methods; (c) whether it would be detrimental to the child if one parent were to have sole authority over the child’s upbringing; and (d) whether domestic abuse, as defined in section 518B.01, has occurred between the parents.
So here is where many people go wrong. They make all these complaints about the other parent, but only ask for joint custody, even though they’ve just proven that joint custody is not workable in this case because the parents can’t communicate, cooperate or share in the child’s upbringing. Also, if you make the argument that abuse has occurred between the parties, you really better be asking for sole custody. Seriously, you just shot yourself in the foot. You just let the court know that in your case, one parent should have sole custody. Guess what? If your ex is asking, but you are not, guess who is going to get sole custody? You just helped them to win! Not to mention, why would you paint such a bad picture of the other parent, but then only want joint custody? You need to fight on equal footings. You don’t ask for less than the ex is asking for, no matter how scared you are. You also do not want to help your ex argue their points. You need to tell the court why your ex is a bad parent and sole custody needs to go to you. You don’t want to keep the spotlight on you by being defensive. You have to keep all eyes on your ex. Be clear and concise in what you are asking for. Cut down on the number of complaints. Be smart when it comes to the court. Do not sabotage your case.
If you need to build confidence in order to plead smart and fight confidently, I am here to help. Just remember, stop complaining and take some action, whether it is to go for a full blown custody trial or just to move forward in life.
About lifesdoorsmediationI am a mediator, Life and Divorce Coach and an Instructor of a High Conflict Divorce Program.
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