For the parent stuck in an on-going court battle with a hostile co-parent, life becomes all about the expense and the court documents. I had one client tell me that while representing herself in her custody trial, for a dramatic affect, she paraded in some carts with boxes full of court orders and informed the judge, “This has been my life for the past ten years.” She lost custody.
That kind of drama may work well in a movie, but it doesn’t play out so well in real life. Representing yourself in a custody trial is NOT something I would recommend. Custody of your child is a VERY important thing, well, at least in terms of decision making. Physical custody, in my opinion, is not that important. Physical custody is about the home the child sleeps in and also the home address put on forms. As long as you have frequent parenting time with your child, physical custody is simply a label. Although, I must add that it can affect child support and who pays it to whom. Legal custody is about important, and even not so important, decisions about your child. If you lose that, no one cares what you want when an issue arises involving the child. The other parent will decide where the child attends school, if they receive a medical treatment or not, by which doctor, etc. You have no say in what happens to your child. I always need to include that information about custody when I am talking about people representing themselves in court, but this article is about court orders.
I have had many discussions with people about the need for court orders and how they get caught up in a whirlwind as the hostility with their ex increases. As a matter of fact, I was with a judge yesterday, talking about high conflict co-parents, and he said, “God love ya for trying to help those people. Their actions just confound me. I cannot for the life of me understand what they are thinking.” It is confounding. People trying to escape the court system get desperate. The need to escape takes over their life and they do not know what to do. The thinking is to look to the court system to “fix” a situation stemming from the court system. So what happens is if a court order is not working people think I have to go back to court and get another court order to fix it. We can look at someone’s pile of court orders and ask that age old question, “How’s that working for you?” (thanks to Dr. Phil).
Piling on a court order on top of court orders is expensive. It also is usually not the answer. Many court orders are sound and a solution to the issue that was brought forth at the time it was issued. If a person is not following a court order, the order itself is not the problem. The problem is the person who is not following it. So I ask you, “If they are not following any of the current court orders, what makes you think they would follow a new one?”
If we could pile all your court documents up and look at how high the pile is, without knowing what they say in them, but only what the cost of getting them was, would you say it was worth the price? Would you say it was worth the emotional cost to you and your children?
If you struggle with a hostile co-parenting situation, and you are coming to the realization that court is not, and has never been the solution, I’d welcome the opportunity to work with you. I am not a lawyer, and I am not going to issue any court orders as a solution to your problem, but I can share with you some techniques that work to minimize the power of court and a hostile ex in your life and the life of your child.
You can enroll for the 12 week High Conflict Diversion Program, or schedule an appointment for coaching. You might consider doing both! No matter what you choose, I look forward to talking with you about your situation. Give me a call today to find out more!
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