Look at that picture. That used to be you- happy family, good friends, cute kids. But somehow, it all fell apart and you find yourself where you never thought you would be - in the custody fight of your life. It’s simple really; most of us have a few really primal urges- things we just instinctively care about. For most of us, those include breathing, eating, and sleeping. For parents, that list usually expands to include caring for your children. While we know that people would fight for air in their lungs or food when they are starving, we sometimes forget that people will also fight to the death for their children. The problem is, that when we are in fight mode, we sometimes forget commonsense.
Our inclination is to listen to our friends who seem always willing to give us advice. I would do this, they say or you should do that. However, one piece of advice is especially damning. It is the thing that makes custody battles go on FOREVER. It may even be the reason you LOSE. What is it? Well the worst advice to listen to is this- Don't let the children stay at the other parent's house, Don't let the other parent make any decisions, basically Don't make any compromises. Any version of advice that you get that tells you not to make agreements or compromise with the other parent is HORRIBLE.
One, it makes it almost impossible to effectively create a parenting plan. The best choice is always for the parents to make the custody arrangement without court involvement. The court is NOT flexible. Maybe you two don't agree on anything except that your child should continue to play hockey on the city team. Your ex may work on practice nights and you always do lessons followed by a snack. Not, if you can't agree. Suddenly, you find yourself disrupting plans that you have always had because someone told you not to work with your ex. That's not very smart. You are way smarter than that.
Two, Judges won't like you. Your ex asks for Wednesday nights because he has off on Wednesdays. The Judge thinks this is reasonable. Don't say no, even though you have no reason to, just to fight. The Judge thinks you aren't considering your child and the rest of your case goes south.
Finally, your children really, really don't want you to do that. They love you. They actually love your ex, who we all know is really a secret jerk. The kids don't know. The kids love both of their parents. They love it when you get along. They love it when you are on the same page. They love it when they get to see both of you.
Don't take bad advice from your friends. Take good advice from a lawyer. Learn to compromise. It is surprising how much easier it makes child custody cases.
By Jacquie L. Jones
Join us on a journey of discovery as we explore issues of custody, criminality, and Probate especially in Delaware County, PA.