Most professionals like me try to do everything possible to help clients stay out of litigation, which tends to harm families more than help them. However, there is a certain percentage of cases that desperately need the assistance of the court, and when that case is yours, it can create the worst anxiety ever! The tendency is to avoid the experience all together. But that could create further harm for the kids. It’s often an unbearable choice to make, but when clients find themselves in this quandary, I try to help them focus on these four questions:
1. Have you done everything you can do to ensure the children are protected from co-parent conflict, but the other parent persists in putting them in the middle?
2. Is there a pattern of court-order violations that make it extremely difficult to do your part as a parent or co-parent?
3. Is the other parent consistently preventing you from having access to the children, their activities, their medical care, or their education?
4. Have you documented a regular pattern of behaviors that the other parent may be engaged in escalating child harm or neglect?
If you answered yes to any of these, it’s imperative you get legal advice. Although litigation can be extremely expensive and emotionally intensive, the above issues can create the kind of instability for children that could have long-term effects. Yes, it’s important to not fight every battle, choose which hill you’ll die on, and accept your ex may be a thorn in your side for years to come. But don’t bury your head completely in the sand. Sometimes the court is a harsh, but necessary friend.
For more practical co-parenting advice, listen to Co-Parent Dilemmas at www.CPDilemmas.com, or wherever you get your podcasts.