The very commonalities that brought two parents together in the first place often creates acrimony after divorce during parenting time exchanges, school events, and the like. In cases that are extreme, there are a variety of legal tools to consider that might resolve the issues, such as a contempt filing or parenting coordinator request. Sometimes, this even necessitates a modification of physical or legal custody or parenting time.
Nevertheless, no lawyer or court can solve every issue between the parties. Over the years we have observed three practical tips or observations that you might try in your case before getting into litigation. Children will sense stress and duress between the parents long before this point and this impairs their relationship between the parents and others now and into the future.
First, during parenting time drop offs and pick-ups, try to avoid a negative connotation with the location. For example, avoid using a police station if possible because this sends a signal to the children something must be wrong for the police to have to be there or near. Also, if you cannot say anything nice, just give your children a few minutes of silence and try to have your non-verbal expression not give your disapproval away. Also, if possible, avoid bringing people to the exchange that elicit hostility, such as significant others, a parent or persons you know will trigger an angry exchanges.
Second, as it relates to time at the other parents house, try to adopt and accept a parallel parenting concept and ask yourself what the issues are that bother you, “Does it make a difference?” Most of the time there are different and disagreeable routines, patterns, or structures that the other parent strongly disagrees with ranging from how often the child brushes his or her teeth to bed times, diet and eating habits to television usage. Ultimately, if on balance this is not going to make a difference in the child’s life, development, safety and the like, try to let it go or address it in such a way as to point out the concern in a constructive way that might make a change. Parents have a good way of knowing the type of feedback the other may respond to.
Third, school events, doctors appointments, and similar matters where a step parent or significant other may be involved by necessity or care for the child, the time addressing this is before the event by over communication (i.e., who will be attending and where they will sit) and agreeing to reserve any disagreement for discussion between the adults afterward. Bickering at such events has wide ranging consequences from a doctor terminating a child from care because of the grief and pressure of the visits to parents and others getting in to physical altercations at events. Plan and react, and be the bigger person and letting it go will do the most for your children’s best interests.
Try these techniques. If they fail, little it to be lost and counsel is always able to later file for particular relief. However, this should be the last resort (this is what trial court judges expect), not the first line defense. This blog post is written by attorneys at Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. We hope you find this helpful as general educational material. It is not intended to be legal advice or a specific solicitation for services. Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. advocates practice throughout the City of Indianapolis and the state of Indiana and handle a wide variety of child custody cases with interstate or international components.