Over the last several weeks I have found my clients fighting about whether one parent should get 3 more days than the other over the summer, about 2 extra hours on July 4th, about 10 more minutes on this day or that. And then, after going back and forth over and over again about these issues, they wonder why their fees are so high.
At some point one needs to ask, “What are you fighting for? “ Are you fighting because you need the extra time or are you fighting because you don’t want your ex-spouse to win? You need to ask if it really matters whether you have the children for an extra 2 hours? And if it does matter, does it matter to you or to the children? You need to think about how will it affect the children if they don’t get a little extra time to see their out-of-town grandfather who is in for a visit.
When I ask my clients about giving just a little extra time, the response I often get is, “ I will ask my daughter if she wants to go.” This is not acceptable. Why burden your children with this question? These are adult issues. Do not put your kids in the middle.
We all hope and pray that we raise healthy, happy children. We do our best to give them the best schools, the best tutors, the best vacations, the best of everything. Why then would you not give them the best divorce? They didn’t ask for the divorce. They don’t want to be in the middle. Why do they have to choose sides? I understand that you may be hurt by your spouse lying or cheating, but did that behavior directly affect your children? Do they have to know about what a rat he or she is? Do you have to destroy their relationship with their parent to get back at the Lying Cheat? Not only is this bad for the relationship between your child and their other parent, but it can backfire on you as well. Courts do not typically look favorably on actions that are not child centered and rather put kids squarely in the middle of their parents’ conflict. For example, in a recent court decision, the way a spouse responded to her husband’s infidelity caused the Court to say that her conduct in dealing with the children was worse than his conduct with cheating.
Remember that children learn what they live. If they hear screaming and fighting and name-calling, that is how they will handle disputes in the future. Think about how you want your children to behave and act accordingly. Do not put your children in the middle of a horrible dispute. Alienating a child and expecting them to take sides will not only hurt you, but hurt your child in the end.
If you have questions about these issues or other family law matters, you should consult a family law attorney. The domestic attorneys at Paule, Camazine & Blumenthal, P.C. are well-versed in these matters.