During high-conflict divorce proceedings, children can bear scars greater than those of the feuding couple. This happens because, consciously or unconsciously, either or both parent attempts to punish the other – or eliminate his or her chances of winning custody – by alienating the child from the other parent. The parent that is the recipient of such parent alienation can reduce the child or children’s pain, however. The Salt Lake City, Utah legal experts at Wall & Wall Attorneys at Law offer tips garnered from their more than 190 years of litigation experience:
1. Consider Your Own Behavior
Before concluding that the blame is all the fault of your soon-to-be ex spouse consider your own behavior towards your child. Ask yourself:
- Do your words or actions send your child a message that you are the “good” parent and your spouse the “bad” parent?
- Do your words or actions send your child the message that you should be your child’s favorite parent?
- Do you punish or scold your child for simply obeying the instructions of the other parent?
2. Avoid Emotional Conversations with Your Ex
When meeting with your ex about your child or children’s needs, schedule, and so forth, stick to the subject. A reminder that he or she failed to be on time for your son’s basketball game four times last year will create the kind of animosity that could negatively impact the regularity of offspring visits with one or both parents.
3. Allowing a Relationship with Both Parents
As much as safety and schedule allows, permit the child to communicate with the other parent. Fighting about when your child can talk to, or see, the other parent can send the child the message that he or she must choose, or give them the perception that the other parent is weak and powerless – or the “bad” parent.
4. Listen to Your Child
Don’t push for communication if your child doesn’t want to share feelings. On the other hand, do listen if your child wants to talk about how the divorce is making him or her feel. Avoid platitudes such as “You’ll understand when you’re older,” or “It will get better.”
5. Consider Professional Help
Perhaps you and your ex spouse could attend counseling together to work out or head off any co-parenting problems. Perhaps your child or children could benefit from individual counseling.
6. You Cannot Change the Other Parent
Responding to parent alienation and other hostile behaviors during and subsequent to a high-conflict divorce does not include trying to change your spouse. Hitting your head up against this kind of a brick wall will only frustrate you, and reduce the joy of your time with your child as you cope instead with anger, resentment, and even the health repercussions of extreme stress.
Rather than trying to control the other parent – who almost certainly will angrily rebuff your efforts – take control of your own actions instead. Rather than having your child view your beet-red face, and loud, angry voice, let your child see how calmly and maturely you handled adversity. While you’re creating a more comfortable environment for yourself, you’ll be teaching your child coping lessons that will serve him or her well throughout life.
7. When Legal Action is the Right Decision
It’s always best to hold litigation to a minimum – far better to spend quality time with your children during what might well be the most painful time in their young lives. However, some circumstances beyond the actual divorce proceedings are aided by, and almost demand legal attention, such as parenting plans and alimony modification.
How Can Wall & Wall Attorneys at Law Help Utah Residents?
Our experienced divorce attorneys at Wall & Wall Attorneys at Law are happy to offer a free consultation and guide your through the divorce itself and related perilous, potentially litigious, circumstances. Wall & Wall, P.C. , with many satisfied clients, provides its friendly, expert advice, in English or Spanish, from the comfort of a handicap-accessible office. Alternatively, one of our courtroom and trial-experienced attorneys can visit an incapacitated spouse at home. Military and law-enforcement personnel who need the divorce expertise of a Wall & Wall attorney enjoy a legal-fee discount as thanks for their community service.