child custody

8 Tips To Help Dads Prepare For A Custody Battle

child custodyWhen it comes to child custody battles, the deck is often stacked against dads. There are numerous gender stereotypes that work against fathers in all family law matters, but they seem especially pronounced in child custody issues.

The unfortunate reality is that child custody is the practice area of divorce that tends to cause the most heated disagreements. Divorce can impact nearly every aspect of your life, but matters such as property division and spousal support pale in comparison to the relationship you have with your kids. Far too frequently, dads are relegated to a secondary parent role when custody is determined.

If you are a father facing divorce and an ensuing child custody battle, it is best to take steps so that you are prepared for what lies ahead.

Contact a child custody attorney

The single most important thing you can do to prepare for your child custody case is to hire a family law attorney who focuses on fathers’ rights.

There are a number of different factors you should consider when choosing a divorce lawyer, but first and foremost you need to make sure you find an attorney who understands the specific challenges men and fathers face in family law.

Fortunately, there are law firms out there, such as Cordell & Cordell, that are solely dedicated to providing dads the legal guidance and resources they need during the divorce process. These fathers’ rights attorneys are well-versed in the child custody statutes in your jurisdiction and equipped to navigate the treacherous minefield of custody battles you are likely to face.

Cordell & Cordell understands the concerns men face during divorce.

Pay attention to details

If you are seeking sole custody or joint custody, it is vital that you show you are invested and engaged in your child’s life. This means knowing everything from your child’s school schedule to the names of their best friends.

As their dad, this is likely information you already know, but do not leave it to chance. A judge can tell the difference between a father who is intimately involved with his child’s life versus a dad who is a passive participant in it.

Don’t confide in your child

Divorce is such an emotionally trying time that many fathers find themselves desperate for a listening ear to vent their frustrations to. But no matter how stressful your divorce gets or how frustrated you get with your ex, do not rant and rave to your child.

Trashing your ex in front of your child can potentially lead to parental alienation, which is incredibly damaging. It can also badly hurt your child custody case. If a judge finds out that you are using your child as a therapist and turning them against their mother, they are likely to question whether you truly have their best interest in mind.

It is important not to keep things bottled up as you are going through the divorce process, but talk to a friend, a trusted family member, or a mental health professional such as a therapist or counselor. Leave the kids out of it.

Stay civil

When a marriage falls apart, it is difficult to avoid having some hard feelings towards your ex. However, regardless of what you think of her, it is for the best if you two can work together to have an amicable relationship post-divorce.

After divorce, you might wish to never even see your ex again, but that is not realistic when you have children. Although you are no longer husband and wife, you are still both co-parents and you are going to need to communicate on some level as you raise your child.

Review some of the best practices for effective co-parenting and try to implement as many of them as possible. Of course, good co-parenting is somewhat dependent on cooperation from your ex, and that is out of your control. If your ex is especially disagreeable, consider utilizing a parallel parenting model of co-parenting to avoid conflict.

Keep notes

It is a good idea to start keeping a journal recording important names, dates, places, and people in the lives of your children. You should also detail any negative behaviors from your ex that could help your case, such as engaging in alienating behavior.

Make sure you list precise times and dates. Attention to detail, or lack thereof, can make or break you child custody case.

Understand your state’s child custody laws

Child custody laws can vary substantially from state to state, so one of the first things you should do is familiarize yourself with the custody statutes in your jurisdiction.

Paying attention to the fine print is tedious, but it is the only way to know what you are up against before your child custody hearing. Reading up on the latest custody laws can also help you figure out a list of questions to ask your divorce lawyer as your court date nears.

Follow proper courtroom etiquette

If you hope to win child custody you have to make sure you behave appropriately in court and follow correct protocols. Talk with your attorney about what is expected on the day of your hearing. It might even be a good idea to do some roleplaying with your divorce attorney ahead of time to ensure that you understand the expectations prior to your court appearance.

You will also want to make sure you dress appropriately to make a positive impression. Typically, you will want to wear something formal that conveys that you are well put together and a responsible adult.

Monitor social media

When you are in the midst of a child custody battle, it is for the best to shut down your social media accounts across the board. There is not much upside to having those accounts open during this time.

Whatever you do, do not post any details about your case. You should be very careful about all the content that you post because it is very easy for someone to form the wrong impression without proper context. For example, you might post a picture of you and your friends having a couple drinks and the opposing party could use that photo as evidence that you are partying too much and not a responsible parent.

A temporary social media blackout is really for the best.

The post 8 Tips To Help Dads Prepare For A Custody Battle appeared first on Dads Divorce.

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divorced dad

4 Things All Divorced Dads Should Do For Their Kids

divorced dad

Divorce is incredibly difficult, but it is important for you to keep in mind how your breakup is affecting your children.

As a father, the best interest of your children is always your top priority. You should never lose sight of that.

With that in mind, here are four things all divorced dads should do to help their kids adjust to their divorce.

Don’t expose them to any breakdowns

Two of the most common emotions associated with divorce are anxiety and depression. There is just so much emotional turmoil to overcome that it is impossible not to end  up a little stressed and sad.

It is critical to your well-being to avoid bottling up these emotions. That is one of the most self-destructive habits you can develop during this challenging time.

However, it is important that you find appropriate outlets to vent about those feelings. Reach out to family members and close friends. It is certainly worth looking into seeing a therapist to help you sort through what you are experiencing.

Do not, under any circumstances, use your children as a sounding board. This is already a heartbreaking process for them, and they should not be expected to talk you through your struggles.

This does not mean you should try to feign fake emotional strength. It is healthy to admit that you are sad to your kids and show your vulnerabilities, so that they know it is OK to feel that way too. But any emotional breakdowns you might go through should be away from their eyes and ears and in the company of a trusted confidant who is more emotionally equipped to help you.

Cordell & Cordell understands the concerns men face during divorce.

Work with your ex to co-parent effectively

Children of divorce are at risk for a number of negative consequences, but those risks can largely be negated by having two active and involved parents involved in their lives.

Effective co-parenting requires clear communication, flexibility, patience, and a commitment to doing what is best for your children regardless of how you and your ex feel about each other.

This is obviously more challenging if there are hard feelings between you and your ex. A lot of couples are utilizing co-parenting counselors to help figure out this process.

“Co-parenting counseling is a specific kind of counseling intended to teach parents who are separated or divorced to communicate more effectively,” said Cordell & Cordell divorce attorney Jamie Spero. “The purpose of it is to talk about the kids’ best interest in a neutral environment with a neutral third party who has special training, and this person is supposed to help you learn to communicate more effectively, so you can co-parent your children easier.”

You might be in a spot where your ex is just too disagreeable to co-parent with. In these scenarios, it might be worth employing a parallel parenting model, which is designed for high-conflict couples.

Avoid bad-mouthing your ex in front of your kids

It does not matter how terrible your ex is, you should never speak ill of her in front of your children. Kids tend to idolize their parents and love them unconditionally. When they hear you breaking her down, it creates confusion and can result in a toxic relationship and even parental alienation.

Again, keep in mind that the best way for you to ensure your children avoid the negative effects of divorce is by ensuring they have a loving relationship with both you and their mother. The negativity between you and your ex should stay between the two of you.

Encourage your kids to talk about your divorce

Just like you, your children need to have a place to talk about the feelings they have about your divorce. Seeing their parents fall out of love and break up is confusing and can lead to heartache, anger, sadness, and a number of other unpleasant emotions.

You should communicate that it is OK for them to feel all of these things and make sure they know you are always available to talk if they need to. Understandably, they might not be comfortable opening up about some things with you, so you might need to find a teacher or counselor who can listen to your children and help them make sense what they are going through.

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Parental Alienation and the Judiciary

Parental Alienation and the Judiciary

 

Medico-Legal Journal (1999) Vol.67 Part 3, 121-123

Parental Alienation and the Judiciary

Dr L F Lowenstein, MA, Dip Psych, PhD

Increasing numbers of cases are coming before the Courts where one parent feels displaced in relation to the children in the family. The syndrome, parental alienation (PAS),’ as it is now called, is not a new one, but its importance is being highlighted in the United States as well as in the UK. Judges are often uncertain as to how to treat the situation where one parent seeks to make contact with the children following an estrangement, separation, or an unusually unpleasant and vicious divorce.

 

There is some pressure on the Judiciary to keep the child or children with the person who has major control, usually the mother. Parental alienation however, also affects some mothers denied contact with their children who are resident with the father. On the whole, it is the male member of the partnership who suffers from the alienation situation.

 

In recent cases in which I have personally been involved, I had the opportunity of talking about PAS and its problems with two judges, on different occasions. The dilemma is how to deal with the case where the resident partner i.e. the alienating partner, fails to co-operate with the courts in providing adequate access for the other partner. I will recreate the general conversation, on an informal basis and hence no names can be mentioned. Interestingly, similar conversations were repeated with both judges, one male and one female, demonstrating how similar problems are often faced by the Judiciary in parental alienation cases.

 

Psych.: Your Honour, this is a case typical of parental alienation and I feel it is only right that the alienated parent should have contact with the child in question.

Judge: But the mother says that the child does not want any contact with the boy.

Psych.: This is because there has been a considerable amount of programming, I have discovered through my assessment, to make the child respond in this manner.

Judge: This may well be so but how do I deal with this situation when mother stubbornly refuses to allow contact of the child with the father?

Psych.: It is a difficult situation, your Honour, but the question remains: should justice be done or should it be ignored?

Judge: it is not as easy as that. I have spent time with mothers, even sitting in a cell, to try to get them to see reason to allow their former husbands to have access to a child. Sometimes this has worked while at other times, there has been a refusal. This puts me he a very awkward position since I must consider carefully, first and foremost, the children concerned and they are, after all, in the care of their mother who, if they are deprived of her, due to her being sentenced for failing to follow instructions, will lose a mother vital to their welfare.

Psych.: Again it comes down, your Honour, to considering the question of failure to comply with the Court ruling. If an ordinary criminal fails to obey instructions of the Court, some punitive action is taken. Should not some punitive action also follow when a mother, or father for that matter, refuses to accede to the ruling of the judge and the Court?

Judge: Well, I will see what I can do on this particular matter and the case before me but I still feel that it is a difficult one to settle, when one of the partners is totally opposed to contact with the child and the child in question has decided openly and before me, to refuse to have any contact with the other parent. Are you suggesting that I fine the mother in question or place her in a prison for failing to adhere to my instructions and that of the Court?

Psych.: I personally see no other alternative. It may well be that if such a threat is made, the alienating parent may, in due course, accept what has been recommended by the Court and there will be no need to take the action which you and I both feel is undesirable and may even be counter-productive.

 

Both judges agreed the case before them was typical of parental alienation and the difficulties they faced are only too obvious. Their first concern, and also that of myself, was the children. If the children have been “brain-washed” and “programmed” in a particular direction, this made the judge’s decision all the more difficult.

 

It is my view that no exception can be made for failing to adhere to the ruling of a court and that justice must be done however painful this may be. It may well be that the alienated parent should eventually gain access following a period of therapy between the psychologist and the child or children in question, to make them aware of what is happening. If older they themselves may well be able to put pressure on the alienating parent to see sense.

 

From the conversation, it can be seen that many judges are undoubtedly unsure how best to deal with alienating parents – this usually being the mother. Judges are often saved by the fact that fathers cease to pursue their role of wishing to play a part in their childrens’ lives. This is due to the resistance they meet from the former spouse, who has often formed a new relationship and wishes the new partner to take over the role of father. I have even known cases where the mother insisted the child call the new husband “dad” and the natural father by his first name.

 

Fathers who pursue both their right and their sense of responsibility through the courts are relatively few. Many opt out due to the resistance they meet from their ex-partners, the programmed child and the reluctance of judges to give them justice. This is undoubtedly due to the following:

 

  1. Judges are reluctant to punish and most especially incarcerate obdurate mothers who refuse to comply with a judge’s decision that they must allow access with an estranged father.

  2. Judges often are reluctant to ignore the view expressed by children that they do not wish to meet their fathers, despite the fact that such children have been “intensively programmed” to respond in this way by mothers and the mother’s relations.

  3. Judges are reluctant to advise that therapy should take place, despite the fact that when such alienation occurs, children are damaged. Such therapy is often recommended by expert witnesses such as a psychologist or a psychiatrist. Such recommended periods of therapy for the child and mother are viewed by judges (with the aid of the mother’s Counsel!) as likely to damage further the children who are involved in this conflict and hostility between the parents.

 

Despite such reservations, judges have a moral duty to provide justice for the alienated party, this usually being the father. The threat of punishment for the alienator must be supported by punishment, including removing the child from mother’s care to a neutral place or to the alienated parent, and to use incarceration when necessary. Failure to carry out this distasteful, but necessary, action against the obdurate party would constitute a mockery of the judicial system. It is my experience as an expert witness to the Courts as a forensic, clinical psychologist, that most alienating parents, whether mothers or fathers, will obey a court order if punishment is threatened for failure to adhere to the ruling. Hence the carrying out of the various possible measures is rarely necessary.

 

In connection with PAS many judges have, without always being aware, adopted a double standard. They see mothers who are alienators as “victims” to be protected even when they have committed what can only be described as a form of “emotional abuse”. They have abused their powerful position by influencing the young children and turning them against the other parent. They have usurped the role of the other parent or given it to yet another partner with whom they have become associated. In this way, they have, by destroying the right of the other parent taken away that parent’s opportunity to contribute to the child’s welfare. This is at a time when we are seeking to promote the equality of the sexes. Partners should have equal power and responsibility toward their children.

 

PAS, when it has been proven, is a vicious form of gender opportunism or gender apartheid, which those seeking through justice can no longer ignore. Judges must stop worrying about public outcries if they remove a child from the care of a vicious programming parent who is showing their hostility toward the former partner.

 

I therefore suggest that the alienated parents, be they fathers or mothers, be protected. In so doing we are also protecting the children of such a relationship from a gross and calculated mis-use of power or position, that of the resident care giver.

 

Judges in cases of proven PAS should act as decisively as they would if judging a case of proven crime such as rape or murder. They must remove the child from the emotional damage being heaped upon it, to a safe place, where the non-alienating parent, with the help of therapy for the child, can have his influences felt by the child. At the same time, it is necessary to help the parent who has alienated the child in the first place. He or she has undoubtedly suffered from a considerable amount of pathological hostility towards the former partner.

 

By removing the child, or children, from the influence of the “brain-washing” alienator, the child has the opportunity of experiencing the dedication of the previously alienated parent and to develop a less biased view of that parent. Also the child can develop a positive view of both parents despite them being at war with each other.

 

This will do much to ensure for that child that both parents, although hostile towards one another, care and are devoted to him/her. This provides the child with a reasonable start in life, which he or she would not have had, had the influence of the alienator been allowed to continue along with a failure to have any contact with the alienated parent at the same time.

 

Dr L F Lowenstein
Allington Manor, Allington Lane
Fair Oak, Eastleigh
Hampshire, SO50 7DE
(01703) 692621

 

References

 

1. Parent Alienation Syndrome: What the legal profession should know, MLJ Vol 66 ( 1998) pt 4, 151.

 

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Parent-child relationship problems: Treatment tools for rectification counseling

Basia Kowalik DDS suffered from Parental Alienation 12/28 by SyndicatedNews | Blog Talk Radio

 

Basia Kowalik DDS suffered from Parental Alienation 12/28 by SyndicatedNews | Blog Talk Radio.

I am a daughter of immigrant parents from Poland. Both sides of my family came to the United States after the war as refugees from the Soviet gulags in Siberia. As an immigrant’s child, I strived hard to excel in school and was the first to achieve a doctorate in my family. In 1983, I married another immigrant from Havana Cuba. We shared a commonality not only in family history, but we also were students at the Marquette University of Dentistry were I received a degree in Dentistry. In addition, to having one of the top practices in the country, we published, lectured nationally and internationally in dentistry and business.

My marriage lasted 20 years. I had never truly understood it until it was over. I had been mentally and physically abused… dragged down 12 steps on my back, by my ankles. The word was control. I had married a narcissist and never knew it until he took the minds of my four beautiful children from me during the divorce. It was parental alienation at its worse and I found myself at the mercy of the legal system with no resolve in sight. My attorney, the guardian ad-litem, the court appointed psychologist and the judge all saw the horrific injustice and yet did nothing. Could they do anything? I collapsed from internal agony.

It was at that point that I had to make the most momentous decision of my life. Because I live in a 50-50% state, both parents have custodial rights unless one parent is totally unfit because of criminal record or such. I soon saw that because of his extraordinary behavior and need of total control, he would make it impossible to co-parent and my children’s lives would be havoc. We had joint custody, but I decided to give him physical custody of the children. I felt if I took away the battle, he would stop the war, but he didn’t.

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