Your marriage floundered, going into a major tailspin. With a spouse who hurled verbal abuse and false accusations at you, you did your best to dodge those arrows. Your children witnessed nearly every incident, every untruth and every curse word that came in your direction.
It should not have had to come to this. And, now, you know what is ahead of you: a contentious battle for child custody. It is not productive nor worth it to get into a war of words with your children’s other parent. Now, it is time for you to focus on a strategy that will help you overcome this toxic situation and secure a parenting plan that works your children’s favor.
Protecting your children and yourself
High conflict divorces often lead to contentious matters in child custody. Shielding your children from the effects of a confrontational divorce, you must focus on some crucial steps that include:
- Protect the children: Understand your children’s feelings as they, too, struggle through divorce. Avoid saying caustic things about their other parent. They listen, and they remember. By behaving civilly, you are protecting them. And always love them.
- Protect yourself: Set boundaries in any dealings with your estranged spouse. All discussions should happen in a public place and include a trusted person at your side. Never be alone with your estranged spouse. And make sure to document everything that happened at these meetings or any other communication in case you receive harassing and threatening messages.
- Take the safest course of action or “the high road”: Controlling your behavior is crucial. Do not take the bait from a vindicative spouse who continues to want to spar with you and drag you down. Steer away from arguments or any topics that can be misconstrued.
- If possible, create a parenting plan: Cool heads lead to compromise and a parenting plan addressing visitation and custody. This is the time when an experienced and level-headed attorney helps.
- Work with a knowledgeable family law attorney: You need guidance, not only in the divorce process but also in how to deal with an estranged spouse who may want to squash you. Whether it is parenting plan, child support or a restraining order, a skilled attorney can help.
A bitter divorce will have lingering effects on you and your children. It is too bad that the end of your marriage included a battle that pitted the interests of a toxic spouse with your well-intentioned interests. A workable child custody arrangement is possible. But always keep the children in mind.