By Evan Compton
Let’s put you in a hypothetical (and likely familiar sounding) situation. Your divorce just started, your children are just as confused as you, and there are no court orders telling you or your spouse how to handle the waves of decisions you have to make. Who picks the kids up from practice? Can I sign them up for after-school lessons? Who is paying for the upcoming field trip? These things can be tough enough normally, let alone for two parents going through a dissolution of marriage proceeding.
It’s not uncommon for one spouse to become obstinate, or to make large unilateral decisions, or to otherwise cease communicating and demand that all communication be directed through his or her divorce attorney. For many of us, our natural reaction to confrontations like these are to react in a defensive manner. You feel attacked and your response is to retaliate so that you can regain some control over the situation. You remember that your spouse has parenting time this weekend and think maybe now is the perfect time to sign the kids up for those swimming lessons that just happen to be at the same time. They want the car? Great, then they can use it to drive the kids around to all of the activities they will now be signed up for.
This type of scenario is far too common in the divorce realm. Emotions are at an all-time high and people begin acting in ways they never had previously. It’s normal, but that doesn’t mean it’s beneficial. Sometimes, parties forget to put the interests of the children ahead of an unrelated dispute they’re having with their spouse. Irrational and short-sighted decisions are made that are meant to punish the other parent but typically end up harming the children.
Children Of Divorce Need Stability And Reassurance
Kids of divorces need stability and reassurance that their lives aren’t going to change. Sudden disruptions, being used as pawns and being overly involved in court issues can cause long-term emotional problems and damage the relationships between the children and their parents. Remember, just because you’re divorced, doesn’t mean you’re out of each other’s lives. You still need to raise these kids together, attend graduations and even walk them down the aisles at their own weddings.
From a legal prospective, no judge will appreciate a parent who uses the children as a means of retribution. When children are involved in a divorce, the Court’s top priority is the best interests of those children. The Court’s initial position will always be that it is in the children’s best interest for both parents to be active and involved. That means all of the property disputes and he said she said of whose fault it is come second until the Court can be assured the kids are in the best situation possible.
Does that mean you can’t ever disagree with what your spouse is doing with the kids? Absolutely not. You just need a good faith reason for it and not because your spouse decided last week to stop paying their part of the mortgage. Divorce or not, the goal with parenting should always be putting your kids’ best interests first. The divorce process tends to make people forget that part. So next time your spouse does something to grind your gears, take a second and remember they’re not just your soon to be ex, but the parent of your children for the rest of their lives.
Planning for a transition into two homes is important, as are the early stages of every case. I’m always happy to discuss your situation further. Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call at (847) 868-9584.