15 Custody Battle Tips When Fighting is Your Only Option

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Engaging in a custody battle is rarely worth the pain and the price you will pay. It will drain your bank account and devastate your kids. It is arguably the most emotionally destructive war you can wage in divorce court.

But, sometimes you have no choice.

Man and woman in a custody battle pulling at arms of a teddy bear.

We have all read the stories of the distraught parent going through a divorce who killed their kids, and then killed him/herself. If your spouse is violent or abusive, fighting for custody* is not a choice. It is a necessity.

Or, maybe you and your spouse live in separate states, and sharing custody and time with your kids is way more complicated. In that case, you may find yourself fighting over custody because not fighting feels like losing your kids.

Whatever your situation and whatever your reason for fighting over custody, understand this: custody battles always create casualties. The best thing you can possibly do is avoid engaging in them.

But, if you can’t walk away from the fight, here are a few tips to help you and your kids from getting destroyed in the war.

Clipboard with a gavel and a key saying: A mediocre settlement is still better than a bad judgment.

15 Custody Battle Tips

1. Do everything you can to settle out of court.

Going all the way to trial in a custody battle is exhausting and expensive. Plus, you never know what a judge is going to do.

No matter how great you think your case is, you have no guarantee that a judge will agree with you. Before you go to court, try mediation. If you can, talk to your spouse yourself.

Do whatever it takes to settle out of court. That is the only way you can keep control over your kids’ lives, and your own. Remember, a mediocre settlement is still better than a bad court judgment.

2. Consult with experts before you start a war.

Don’t even think about waging a custody war on your own! This is not Court TV. The stakes are high and the fight is long and complicated. Do not try to do this on your own.

Talk to a lawyer about your chances of actually winning your case before you start to fight. Better yet, talk to two lawyers. Ask them for their honest opinion about your chances of winning a custody battle in court.

Then listen to their answers! There is no point in starting a war you cannot win.

Two upset kids with their parents arguing in the background. Parental conflict hurts kids.

3. Dial down the drama.

When parents fight, children suffer. I have seen well-adjusted, straight “A” students start flunking out and doing drugs after their parents started fighting over them in court.

If you feel you have no choice but to fight over custody, at least try to keep your kids out of the battle. Don’t tell them what is going on in court. Don’t talk badly about their other parent. Try not to fight with their other parent in front of them.

Most importantly, don’t bring them to court with you! Dragging your kids into the courtroom will not help your cause. It will just make the judge question your judgment and your motives.

4. Do your best to be objective.

Is the custody that you are fighting for (whether that is joint custody or sole custody) really going to be best for your kids? Is there any way you can compromise without putting your children in the middle of a war?

Be brutally honest with yourself. Why are you fighting? Is your child’s other parent a bad parent? Is s/he dangerous? Or do you just disagree with his/her parenting style?

As hard as it is to see your kids being raised differently than you think they should be raised, recognize that “different” isn’t the same as “bad.”  If your spouse is basically a good parent who just has different values than you, then fighting over custody is probably going to be an unproductive battle.

Your kids will be better off being exposed to two different parenting styles than they will be in getting dragged through the court system by parents who hate each other.

Avoid a custody battle: Silhouette of two fighting parents on boulders with their crying children on a plank between them and a "Stop" sign on the bottom.

5. If you are going to fight, do it for the right reasons.

Protecting your kids from an abusive parent is a good reason to engage in a custody battle. Fighting about custody to gain leverage over your spouse in the money issues of your divorce is not.

Fighting for the right reason requires you to take the time to understand what your reason for fighting really is. Dig deep and, again, be honest.

Are you fighting to have your kids live with you because you don’t want your kids to live with your ex and the scumbag person s/he had an affair with? While having an affair might have been an exhibition of questionable personal judgment (and morals!) does it make your ex a bad parent? Are you trying to keep your kids away from your ex because it is truly best for them, or because you are angry and hurt?

6. Control Yourself.

While you are going through a custody battle, you will be living your life under a microscope. Everything you do can potentially make a difference in your case.

Tempted to dash off a blistering text message to your spouse when you are mad? Don’t. The last thing you want is for angry texts you sent to your spouse to show up as evidence in your custody trial. The same is true for email rants, or even bad behavior that others witness.

You also need to stay off social media. Even if you have your privacy settings cranked to the sky, anything you post on social media can potentially be seen by everyone – including your spouse. All it takes is one “friend” to share your stuff, or one subpoena from your spouse’s lawyer, and everything you have ever posted will now become public record.

Multi-colored plastic children's letters spelling "child support" on top of a pile of $100 bills with a judge's gavel.

7. Support your kids.

No matter what is going on in court, you have an obligation to support your children. Period. Full stop.

It doesn’t matter whether the legal bills are eating you alive. The fact that your spouse is acting like a jerk and sabotaging your time with your kids is irrelevant. Your kids have to eat. They need a roof over their head and clothes on their back. That means you need to support them.

Plus, one of the factors a court will consider in making a custody decision is whether a parent who wants custody is actually paying to support his/her kids. The bottom line is that these are your kids. Support them.

8. Don’t alienate your kids from their other parent.

If you want your children to grow up happy and healthy, they need to have a relationship with both of their parents.

Obviously, if one parent poses a real danger to them, then that parent’s time with the kids might need to be limited and/or supervised. But, if your children’s other parent is just a bonehead and not abusive or dangerous, then you need to encourage your kids to spend time with that parent.

Again, one of the factors that courts consider in custody battles is whether both parents are encouraging the kids to have a relationship with their other parent. Facilitating that relationship will not only be good for your kids, but it will be good for you in court, too.

melancholyc child staring out the window

9. Make every decision with the kids in mind.

If you want to have a chance of getting custody of your kids, you have to demonstrate to the court that you are willing to do whatever is best for them – even if it is not best for you.

Do you want to move to a cheaper, or better, home outside the kids’ school district? Even if doing that would allow you to get a bigger house, or reduce your commuting time to work (leaving you more time with the kids), if your move will require your kids to change schools, it’s probably not going to be the best thing for your kids.

Thinking of getting a new job, or a second job, to bring in more money and get you back on your feet? If working more will require you to travel, or will take away any of the time you spend with your kids, then changing jobs, or getting another job, might not make sense … at least not right now.

10. Don’t make false allegations against your ex.

Accusing your spouse of being abusive might seem to be the perfect way to get your spouse away from the kids. But, if you exaggerated (or, worse, made up!) your allegations, your accusations can turn into powerful evidence against you.

False allegations of abuse will make the judge question your credibility on every other issue. They will show the judge that you are more concerned about “winning” then you are about doing what is right, or best for your kids.

Making false accusations against your spouse also shows that you are undermining your kids’ relationship with your spouse. No matter how tempted you might be to trump up allegations against your spouse to get the upper hand in court, the best advice is: Don’t do it.

Brown male and female eggs in a carton leaning into each other - new love.

11. Don’t move in with someone new right now.

The judge in your case is charged with doing what is in your children’s best interest. If that judge thinks it is morally wrong for you to move in with a new lover while you are still married to your spouse, you are going to be toast in court.

Even if the judge takes a more liberal view about you moving in with someone else before your divorce is over, doing that still inserts a total stranger into your children’s lives. It makes it look like you are more concerned about your own happiness, than the well-being of your children.

From your kids’ perspective, they may still be trying to adjust to the fact that their parents have just split up. Asking them to welcome a new “parent” into their lives so soon can damage your relationship with them. It can undermine your ability to work with your spouse as a parent. It can also seriously screw up your custody case.

12. Put your best foot forward with everyone in the court system.

This includes the judge, the Guardian Ad Litem, or your child’s attorney or representative, the mediator, the child evaluator, and anyone else involved in the court process.

All of these people have the ability to affect when and how much you see your kids. They can influence whether you will have the right to make parental decisions for your children going forward. Do not get on their bad side!

It doesn’t matter if you think that some of the professionals involved in your case are the dumbest people on the planet. Alienating any of them can come back and bite you later. Remember, you get more flies with honey than with vinegar.

Wife and children stand on one side of a cliff and the husband stands on the other.

13. Stay involved with your kids’ lives.

No matter what kind of parenting schedule you have, you probably have way more opportunities to be involved in your children’s lives than you think.

Go to your kids’ school conferences. Meet their teachers. Take them to the doctor. Attend their sporting events and extra-curricular activities. Volunteer to drive in their carpool before or after school if you can.

Staying active in your kids’ lives will not only look good to the court, but it will also strengthen your relationship with your children.

14. Document Everything.

When you’re fighting for custody, you need to document everything much more than you would if you were going through an amicable divorce. If you want a judge to believe what you say, you need to be able to prove your allegations in court. Since no one’s memory is perfect, that means that you are going to have to keep a record of what you do.

Document when and why you switch parenting time with your ex. Keep track of who has the kids on what holiday. Get a calendar. Write down everything you do with your kids. Write down everything you spend on your kids.

If writing on a paper calendar is too old school for you, try an online parenting program. There are plenty of online parenting tools that can help you keep track of the time and money you spend on your kids. While documenting every aspect of your kids’ lives may be a pain in the neck right now, if you ever have to testify in court, you will be glad you did!

Young girl holding two thumbs up with saying: Love your child more than you hate your ex

15. No matter what happens in court, never give up on your kids.

Even if your spouse ends up with sole custody, or you get a parenting schedule that doesn’t give you nearly enough time with your kids, don’t give up! Use every minute of your parenting time. Show up for all of your kids’ activities. Stay involved in their lives. Keep putting your kids first in every way.

In the big picture, whether you “win” custody is not necessarily what matters the most. Maintaining a relationship with your kids is what matters the most.

Even if the court decision doesn’t go your way, don’t let that deter you from caring about your kids. Don’t let that stop you from seeing your kids as much as you can. Even if you have been deeply hurt by your ex, the lawyers, or the judge, check your ego at the door. Step up and show up for your kids. In the end, that’s really what it’s all about.

____________
*If you live in a state like Illinois or Colorado, which has abolished the term “custody,” you can no longer fight over “custody” of your kids. But you can still fight about who has the right to make decisions for your kids, where they will live, and when you and your spouse will see them. The words are different. The fight, unfortunately, is substantially the same.

Karen Covy

Karen Covy is a Divorce Coach, Lawyer, Mediator, Author, and Speaker. She coaches people to make hard decisions with confidence, and navigate divorce with dignity.  She speaks and writes about the art and science of making difficult decisions in emotionally-charged circumstances. To connect with Karen and discover how she can help you, CLICK HERE.


Tags

child custody, divorce blog, divorce litigation


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    • Hey karen
      I fell in love with another guy and I do not love my hubby anymore. I did not mean for this to happen but I want to be with this other guy more

      • I lost weight and my hubby and me fight all the time and I starting talking to this other guy and I file but my hubby does not know yet I tried to be with my hubby there is nothing there,anymore. I can’t go on like that at all. I talk to him and he says he loves me but I can’t do it I am very much in love with the other guy and my hubby is going to be hurt

          • That’s SUCH a broad question! I’m afraid I can’t even begin to know where to start to answer it without knowing a ton more details. Sorry.

            Karen

          • Hi my children no longer want to g to their dads house, we have a court order but they refuse to go , he punches my son in the chest for not picking up dog droppings on their weekend visits, & makes my daughter feel uncomfortable by standing over her as she sleeps & pretending like he is looking for something if she opens her eyes & says things like your too thick to come over here with anything other than basketball shorts. Has a very inhabitable house with 4 husky dogs that only live inside, the place is filthy my children have plenty of pictures & refuse to go but he has a lawyer now & I can’t afford one so she killing me in motions for my finances, & emergency motion to see the kids stating he hasn’t seen them since September 2018 due to work but that’s a lie, my kids refuse to go even told school councilor & a DCF worker what was going on. I don’t know what to do , I can’t afford a lawyer & no one can help me! Do I have to send his lawyer my finances even if it was sent by service or do I only respond to court documents that come in the mail?,please help what can I do , will my kids ever get chance to tell a judge what they want they’re 11 & 12!

          • I’m so sorry to hear your plight! You definitely need a lawyer.

            You might want to try finding a pro bono lawyer in your area. Look for a legal aid office near you. Check out any law schools in your area. Sometimes they have free legal clinics staffed by students but supervised by teachers. Call any bar associations in your area. Finally, ask the judge for help. Many judges maintain a list of free lawyers who can help people in need.

            It may also be possible to get your husband to pay for your lawyer. That depends on the law in your state, as well as other things. I can’t give you any advice about that, but you may want to at least see if you can get a consultation with a good divorce lawyer in your area so you can get your questions answered. Even if you have to pay for an hour or two of a lawyer’s time, it will be worth it! (You might also be able to pay a lawyer just to explain the court process to you and maybe to write a motion on your behalf. Again, though, that depends on the lawyers and the law in your area.)

            Hope this helps.

            Karen

            PS I can’t answer your other questions because they are legal questions. I can’t answer those online or outside the state of Illinois. Sorry.

        • I filed for divorce due to emotional abuse of myself and my 2 kids (11 & 13). I requested he leave, and after waiting 3 months, he finally left last September. I filed in November, and hired an attorney. Nothing was done on my case- other than I attended the required parenting class and went to a voluntary mediation- which was unsuccessful. By March 1, I tried unsuccessfully for a month to get a reply from my attorney- and found out we missed a deadline to submit a parenting plan to the courts, and they never showed up to the one status hearing that was had. Nor was I notified of it. I dismissed that attorney, as they indicated they were too busy to deal with my case at this time due to Covid.

          Meanwhile, 9 months have passed and no court orders, no custody or visitation plan. Neither of my kids wants to visit him. They refuse to answer the phone if he calls. The current plan is I bring them to and from ex’s apartment for 90 minute visits 2x/week. They are seeing a trauma specialist therapist weekly, and seem happy and healthy all the time with me. Whenever it is visit day, I remind them the night before, keep a consistent schedule, etc. yet they get angry and state they never want to go, and often refuse to get in the car when it’s time to go. Usually I can coax them in. They have wet their pants at his house (at age 10 and 12).
          I’m working with my brand new attorney to try to propose a visitation and parenting plan- but I feel like it has to be minimal for the kids mental health.
          Ex (has autism high functioning) cannot empathize with the kids and blames them for everything. He also wants 50/50 and lives in a 300sq.ft. apartment. Because he’s bitter, he’s refusing to work and wants me to pay full maintenance so he can get a nice apartment.

          Do I have to force the kids to go? He won’t let them inside his apartment due to Covid. Even if it’s cold or raining.

          • What you’re asking are legal questions that I can’t answer online. But I STRONGLY suggest you take them up with your attorney.

            As a practical matter, I can’t imagine that any judge would want your kids standing outside in the cold and the rain for an hour and a half twice a week. But, again, that’s something you’ll have to take up with your attorney. You’re probably going to want to do that asap.

            Karen

      • Every one meets people they are attracted to after marriage; it’s just natural, Kristi; however, we must honor our promises, commitments, and obligations.

  • It is good advise for whose love they child than anythings else in the whole world and this is a good site for divorce peoples.

    • My son took his ex to court for custody in September 2018. It is May 31 and the judge still has not ruled and if my son calls his lawyer he gets the same old song and dance “ We haven’t gotten anything from the judge yet but that will be another $100.00 on your bill for my time talking to you today.” The evidence against the ex is staggering. Porno of her preforming sex acts on herself on the 13 and 9 year olds tablet. She married a man the kids met a week before court. That she met at the suboxin clinic. They stay in bed drugged up. The kids fend for themselves. The new step dad is harassing my son to every extent possible and we can’t do anything. The lawyer says we are doing the best and if we call child protective service or file harassment charges it will make things worse. What do you do? Our court system here is a complete joke.

      • Waiting for a judge can be frustrating. Unfortunately, there’s not much else you can do. (Sorry!)

        I’m not sure from what you said whether the custody trial was finished in September 2018. If it was, that was definitely a long time ago! (On the other hand, if the petition was just FILED in September, and you haven’t even gotten to trial yet, that’s really not that long ago! There are a lot of steps that you have to go through before trial. And getting a trial date often takes time. The court system works slowly!)

        At this point, your son might want to consult with another lawyer and see if he has any other options for pushing this forward. The problem is that, if the only thing you are waiting for is a decision from the judge, and you try to push the judge, that might make him/her give you a decision you don’t want! So you may be better off just being patient. (I know. I’m sorry.)

        Another thing you might try is personally going to court every time your case is up for a status conference or anything else so that the judge sees that you’re there and that you want a decision. Other than that, I’m at a loss for what to tell you.

        Sorry I can’t be of more help.

        Karen

    • How many other parents out their find themselves feeling digitally raped during the discovery process because civil rules didn’t anticipate the level of unwarranted and intrusive search a smart phone allows. I had no idea something that allowed me to do daily things recorded so much about my life. Now I have to turn everything over to a person who abused me and my kids and stalked me for years. We were never married, but we had kids together. I am trying to protect me and my kids, but as part of the discovery, I am being asked for things that I didn’t know existed
      and I am being told I have to give it over to this person who continues to terrorize me. If I don’t then I risk losing my kids. This is crazy. What is even more crazy is I have been told to let this person have unsupervised visits with my kids and already during two consecutive visits this person physically abused my kids. When I asked about reporting, I was told not to because it would look bad to the court. How is it that a stalker abuser can be guaranteed opportunities to further terrorize me and harm my kids, but I can’t report it because some person serving as a judge might take away my kids be that judge might think I am trying to do something other than protect my kids by reporting a crime. How is this right. How can people standby. How can people be okay with this. We put humans as judges because they are supposed to be humane.

      • I don’t know what to tell you, other than if you don’t have a lawyer, you need to get one. If you have a lawyer and you’re not satisfied with what s/he is telling you, then go get a second opinion.

        You might also want to work with a local domestic violence organization in your area. They can be a tremendous resource for you.

        Best,

        Karen

  • I sure learned my lesson good. Never again will I search for love in a woman! Only if I could have known then the manifold ways of the Hellion. I thank God for having mercy on me and my children.

  • Been going through drama with both my baby mamas over wanting to be there for my kids and give them a better life.. They wont let me see them and want to always argue i want the best for my kids but sometimes i want to give up because i feel like there isn’t a way to better my kids life

  • My ex husband left me when he was caught having an affair while I was pregnant with our second child. This was 9 years ago. I have had custodial rights and I am primary to our 2 children for the last 9 years. Shortly after divorce I had to take him to court for lack of paying child support. He now pays CS after garnishing wages and has paid for years. He basically attends they’re athletics but has never gone to a doctors visit, dentist , therapist. Anything. When my oldest daughter became 12 he filed for primary custody claiming she and her brother want to live with him now. Prior to him filing for primary custody I had cut him off from text a voice communication due to aggressive, profane and absolute obsessive control with texts ranging in the teens daily. Only email correspondence. I have record of these texts and email for the last 9 years printed. I am a teacher of 17 years and I truly do everything for these children. I hold them accountable as well for they’re actions and the kids have been told I’m not fair to them via they’re father, this has made them feel liberated that #1 they’re father has shown them attention they never had and #2 he agrees that they shouldn’t be punished for being held accountable for things they do wrong such as lying 10 times in 3 months or yelling at me, etc..Real things that take grounding or reduction in thing they ,like such as videogames or cellphone. My ex is now condescending towards me while I’m on the phone with my daughter while she is in his possession and I can sense the alienation through the tone and the sounds he makes to her regarding me. He also has her text me while she is in his possession since he cannot any longer. He has now, as mentioned, taking me to court for primary custody and filed me to eventually pay him CS on my teachers salary where he makes more than double I earn. He has also recently filed motion to the court for an Amicus and for it to be paid 50-50. They basically rubber stamped it without any debate. I feel I have no other option than to fight though money is tight to say the least. I have over the last 9 years gave him the option to have the kids on occasion as a kind gesture to him and for my kids to have more time but I wasn’t ever going to give up my custodial rights because he proves he cannot parent or maintain these kids live. (Example: My son has chronic ear infections and tubes multiple times. While on summer vacation this year my son came back home to my house after 10 days with his father on vacation with puss running out of his ear due to lack of care. This is just one occasion.) He has never taken me up on any extra time and actually used to take Thursday nights with the kids spending the night and him taking them to school on Friday but he stopped doing that because I moved residences, same distance as the previous house, but he told the kids that’s the reason he quit having them spend the night. Again alienation. So I know he will not compromise about time to get out of this custody case, this is about the CS he pays. And now since he married the woman he had an affair with and they have 2 kids he needs that CS he pays me to support his lifestyle. I have a lawyer and already into this lawyer for over $9000 in 9 months. I need advice. Im not sure if there is any though.

    • I’m not sure if there’s any advice I can give you either. You’re in the middle of a custody battle you can’t afford, but from what you’ve written, you can’t afford NOT to fight either. So your choices are either to spend money you don’t have in order to keep custody of your kids, or to give up. (Although, I’m not sure from what you’ve written if your husband just wants to be the primary residential custodian, or if he wants sole legal custody too.)

      In any event, it may sound crazy and far-fetched, but you might want to consider mediation. Settling your case is the only way you can end this battle without going to court. Can it be settled? I don’t know. But I do know that the only way to find out is to try.

      If you don’t want to mediate, and your husband won’t give up, then your only option is to continue to fight and go all the way to trial. I have to tell you though, that letting a judge make this decision doesn’t always go well either.

      I wish there was more that I could say to you. You’re just in a really tough spot. Sorry.

      Karen

    • Erin, I am in a very similar situation as you except that I am a father. I am curious how your case is going because mine is dragging out and it is wearing me out emotionally and financially. It’s hard to keep pushing on when you keep getting pulled back!

  • Hi Karen,
    My fiance and myself recently split. We had a very toxic relationship not only for ourselves but very toxic for our child. When i left our home i took our daughter with me, the very next day i filed for custody and had him served. There were times he asked to see her and i complied every time and met with him for visitation. One day we met for visitation and he bad me served with a restraining order saying that i cant be around my daughter nor him. While we were together i was a stay at home mom. So now that we have split i have no money for an attorny. I have called everyone i can possibly call and done everything i can do. No one can help me. And i am stuck! Our hearing is in a few days and i really need your advice.! I really need my baby girl back.!!
    Thank you
    Samantha

    • I am so sorry to hear what’s happened! Unfortunately, without knowing a WHOLE lot more I don’t know what to tell you. (Plus I can’t give legal advice online anyway.)

      I don’t know if you’ve tried your local legal aid office. Law schools often have free or low-cost legal clinics. Or, if you have anywhere you can borrow money from so you can get an attorney.

      The one thing I can tell you for sure is that you don’t want to go through this kind of a hearing without an attorney (especially if your ex has one!) If all else fails, when you go to court you can ask the judge for time to get an attorney. Many judges keep lists of local attorneys who will work for small money or no money. You can ask for that list.

      Know, though, that if you ask for an extension of time to get a lawyer that means that the current restraining order will likely stay in effect at least until the next hearing date. I know that’s not what you probably want. But if you go through with the hearing and lose, the restraining order may stay in effect for much longer than that.

      Your best bet is to do whatever you can to get a lawyer.

      Sorry.

    • Assuming the reason for the restraining order is bogus, you shouldn’t have much to worry about except for the obvious stress of the current situation. You should be able to go to court with a well prepared case to defend yourself and also bring up anything you have against your ex. This is all assuming you have a good record and do not actually deserve the restraining order.

      My ex served me a Temporary Protective Order (TPO) based on false claims. She was too scared to show up to court so the TOP was dropped.

  • I have been in a custody battle for 2 1/2 years. My sons dad and I were never married and he was born in 2009. In 2011 he waived his rights to our son so I’ve had sole custody his whole life.
    I got married July 2015 and in September 2015 I found meth and steroids in our home. This caused an altercation and my son witnessed part of it, we split up (divorced) and he’s never been around my son since. My sons dad filed papers on me June 2016 stating I was unfit. I have been dating a man for 15 months and we got engaged 3 months ago. He is stable, has full custody of his son, and has never been in trouble. We are wanting to get married and my attorney is telling me that living with my parents until this is over is a more stable environment for my son.
    Our kids get along, we get along, and have had a few disagreements that were handled without any arguments.
    What do do believe is best for my son?

    • With all due respect, I think you’re asking the wrong question. What I believe is best for your son doesn’t matter. What YOU believe is best for your son, and what the court believes is best for your son, does matter.

      I’m sure there’s a lot going on right now in court with respect to your son.

      Just remember, you hired an attorney for a reason. Presumably you hired a good attorney and you trust him/her. If your attorney is telling you that living with your parents until the court battle is over will provide a more stable environment for your son, then listening to your attorney makes sense.

      I know that’s probably not what you want to hear right now. Sorry!

      Karen

  • Hey Karen. Thanks for the tips. I’m somewhat familiar with all this because I’m a child of divorce, but I never thought I’d ever have to put my own child in the position of a custody battle. My sons dad and I were never married. HE told me he was 28 and we had a casual relationship before I became pregnant. He had a restraining order on his ex girlfriend before me and made her out to seem completely crazy. And I truly thought she was. He had me move in before my 2nd trimester and then within a week, he was asking me to pay husband backdated rent and would pull out his cell phone to video record me during arguments stating he was a “black man who needed to protect himself”. I also found out he was really 38 (13years older than me). He would also constantly obsess about other women and compare me to them. Months went by, I had our son and my ex was going out often and dealing marijuana. Last September, I was breastfeeding my then 2 month old son in my underwear when we got into an argument and he whipped out his phone and started video recording me. I SNAPPED and hit him. This toxic relationship carried on a few more months. I checked myself into a psych ward for 2 days because I felt like I was losing my mind. I didn’t receive a diagnosis. A day after I got out, we got into another fight and he had me arrested and kicked me out on a TRO without a job, home or support system. My 6 month old son was still breastfeeding and I couldn’t see him for 2 weeks. I filed for custody a few months later after he repeatedly violated his order and made several attempts to entrap me. Our court date is first week of November and he’s since submitted several letters from friends that speak very ill of me and say he’s a good dad. I admit I’ve been no saint. I sent nasty messages to some of his friends at the start of this year because I was deeply hurt by their affairs with him. I’m a good person though and a good mom. I have an eccentric personality though and tend to lash out in four letter words which is the only thing that speaks against my character. He’s had 3 girlfriends since the start of this year. I’ve been completely celibate and am getting baptized soon. I passed a court ordered hair follicle test. HE stated he couldn’t afford his test. I’ve maintained housing since August and a job since may. HE never showed up to his interview with the mediator but she still recommended joint custody. I a mother working closely with my therapist (whom i reached out to) and my advocate from domestic violence action center (who say I’m a victim of emotional abuse). I have no intention of ever wanting anything to do with my ex because of his manipulation tactics. I want him in my sons life with limited contact until he can seek treatment for himself. What are my odds of winning this case? Thank you

    • Oh my!

      First of all, I can’t give you the odds of winning your case, but a lawyer in your area probably could. The outcome of your case depends on far too many things (ALL the facts, the law in your state, your judge, your lawyer and much more!). I can’t even venture a guess what will ultimately happen. Whether you “win” your case or not also depends on how you define “winning.”

      If by “winning” you mean cutting your son’s father out of his life forever, your chances probably aren’t that good. (Again, you need to talk to a lawyer about that!) But, in general, courts want BOTH parents to have a relationship with their child. So, even though you may never want to see your ex again, your son has a right to see him, and he has a right to see his son.

      If you want to do what’s best for your son (and it seems like you do) then the things you are doing are a good start. You’re working with a therapist. You have a steady job and an apartment. You’re staying clean. THOSE are the things that matter.

      If you want to increase your chances of doing well in court, keep doing all of those things. And keep working on yourself. The more you can control your emotions and NOT send nasty messages to anyone, the better.

      I know it’s hard, but try to focus on what YOU are doing and how YOU can be the best mother. Don’t focus on your son’s father and his behavior. You can’t change him. But you can change yourself. In the end, that’s how you really do what’s best for your son.

      Karen

  • Yes I had a question now my ex is going through a custody battle for the 2nd time he won the first time but this time his baby mama is saying shes gonna use recordings and photos of me in the custody case to try and prove hes abusive now I had no knowledge of these things nor did I agree to them but we live in Kansas now can she really use them if I’m not in the picture anymore and use me as a weapon? This is eating me alive because at the time I was venting thinking she was a friend he has been cleared by dcf 5 times and never had any abusive background the bruises she says she saw were from my anemia during my pregnancy and when I talked to her over half the time I was angry or upset but never knew I was recorded. Can she really use me against him even though I’m not involved anymore?

    • I can hear how torn up you are by all this. Unfortunately, I don’t know the answer to your question because I don’t practice law in Kansas. But I can tell you that investing in a consultation with a really good Kansas lawyer who knows this area of the law will be the best money you ever spent!

      If the lawyer tells you that you have nothing to worry about, it will take the weight of the world off your shoulders! If the lawyer tells you that you DO have something to worry about s/he can also tell you what you can start doing right now to lessen the impact of whatever recordings and photos your ex’s baby mama may have. That, too, can be absolutely invaluable information. It can help you start to repair whatever damage may have been done by talking to your ex’s baby mama.

      Karen

  • This is great advice. I am a father with standard visitation in TX. We were not married or living together. My son does mediocre in school although I am told he makes a’s and b’s. When I confront her about the discrepancy, she goes off on me. This has been going on for the last 3 years. I have also asked to have him call me so I can do his homework with him and she will not allow it. His homework goes unfinished or unchecked. I don’t know what else to do and do not want to see my son struggle anymore so I want to try to get joint custody. His mother has the luxury of not having to work full time thanks to her mother and the government (we the people). I’m frustrated and just want the best for my son.

    • I can understand that you want the best for your son. As a firm believer in education, I also understand completely that you want to help your son with his homework so he can stop struggling in school. But I’m not sure that having joint custody will solve the problem in the way that you think it will.

      It sounds like your real issue is that you and your ex have different values surrounding education. That’s a problem. With or without joint custody, you’re never going to change your ex.

      Having joint legal custody means that you and your ex will share decision-making for your son. But making decisions about your son’s education isn’t the problem. Getting your son to value education and do his homework is. Even if you had joint custody, I don’t know that that would change your wife’s behavior in not making your son do his homework.

      Let’s say you get joint custody. Then you’re going to say to your ex “our son needs to do his homework.” Then she’s going to go off on you just like she does now. She’ll aslo probably ignore your son’s homework. So, what’s going to change? If you and your ex can’t work this out now, just having joint custody isn’t going to change anything. It’s just going to make you and your ex fight more.

      I’m not saying that having joint custody is a bad thing, or that you shouldn’t try to get joint custody. But custody battles are super hard on kids. They’re also expensive and time-consuming. Before you start that battle, you’d best figure out what you really want to accomplish. You would also be very wise to get some good legal advice about your chances of winning, and how much this may cost.

      Usually, custody battles cost tens of thousands of dollars and take years to finish. There is also no guarantee you will win. So, again, you want to think long and hard about what you’re trying to accomplish before you dive into this kind of a fight.

      What are your other options? Perhaps if you spend more time with your son, you can make sure he does his homework more often. If you arranged your schedule to see him on more school nights that might be possible. Or, perhaps you can incentivize your son to do his homework himself (i.e. if you do all of your homework for a whole month, I’ll buy you this thing you want – or whatever. You get the idea.) Or you may have other options. I don’t know.

      One thing you should do is talk to a good family lawyer in Texas about this and see what your options are. You may be able to come up with something that gets your son to do his homework without starting a giant court battle that will end up making everything worse.

      Good luck.

      Karen

  • Hey Karen I was made to look like a fool at court I went with papers written up but no lawyer. My wife and her mom and her lawyer was manipulating to me. I didnt wanna make no one mad on stating my case. My wife is bipolar she is good when she is good but real bad when she is bad if you know what I mean. She has her really bad days and might not know what she 8s doing but it has been bad before. I dont want to take the boys from her but I wanna better chance I work I have for us to live for 14 yrs she has never worked and they pretty much made it there own rules before the judge was there. How do I win without telling the judge about her past

    • I don’t know how to say this any other way: You NEED a lawyer!

      I know lawyers are expensive. But if you want to have ANY chance of doing well in court given your circumstances, you need legal advice. That’s especially true since you don’t want to make your wife mad by stating your case. I don’t know how you win without telling the judge about your wife’s past. That’s a legal question that, again, you need to ask a lawyer in your area.

      I’m not trying to run up a big legal bill for you. But, if you don’t want to be made to look like a fool again, you need help.

      Hope this helps.

      Karen

  • One of my cousins is getting divorced from his wife, so he is looking to get custody of his child. His wife has a lot of emotional problems, so it seems like fighting it out is the only option for my cousin. I love how you mentioned that he should look for a good lawyer, as they will be able to counsel him and increase his chances of getting custody.l Thanks for all the great tips on how to fight a custody battle.

  • My son has joint custody of his kids. He has followed the judgement to the letter. His ex on the other hand has not. When he brings this up with the ad-litem, therapist or coordinator, they all side with the ex. The most important is that she doesn’t always send the kids medicines with them for their stay with their father. The last time, my son texted her 16 times about it. Up and including that he would go over to her house to get it. Still no medicine. The one son has asthma and needs his meds. The other is on ADHD meds. These are not meds you can just obtain whenever you want. The coordinator told my son he should have tried harder to get the meds. Where is the justice is that?

    • Since you can’t just go to your local pharmacy and get these meds, the smartest thing your son can do is find a way around his ex. (Sorry, but you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do!)

      Maybe he should talk to the kids’ doctors and explain the situation. Perhaps he could get a prescription for the meds so he could have some of them at his house in case of emergency. He may also want to talk to his lawyer about getting a court order requiring her to give him the meds when she gives him the kids. Then, if she doesn’t do it, he could go to court to enforce the order.

      I don’t know why everyone sides with your son’s ex, but that might be something worth exploring. Maybe there is more going on than you know. (Sorry. I don’t mean to imply anything about your son. I’ve just been doing this long enough to know that there is often more to the story than any one person knows.)

      Finally (and this one is hard) your son could try talking to his ex and figuring out what’s going on with her. What does she want? Why is she being so difficult? I know that she may not talk to him, and even if she does, it may not work. But, it’s always worth a try.

      Hope this helps.

      Karen

      PS Who said anything about justice? What your son needs is a solution to his problem. Worrying about “justice” unfortunately won’t help. (Sorry!)

  • The only thing I would add is in aspects of child support. If your ex can’t support your children on their own because of excessive child support paid to yourself. Then you are helping alienate your child’s other parent

  • My daughter has a two year old son–
    She has sole custody. The baby’ s dad is involved, sees him every Saturday, and has since he was born.
    He has little experience with children, and blames my daughter when his “visits” don’t go as he plans.
    He fumes and assumes an extremely hostile attitude towards my daughter at times.
    (We wonder if he is bi-polar.)
    For instance, the baby was sick, cried, and wanted to ” go home” during an outing. Dad didn’t understand- thought somehow my daughter was manipulating the baby, and ruined his visit.
    He is threatening to sue for custody. Note he has never changed a diaper, paid any child support, brings him home soiled often. In fact, he has never changed a diaper.
    He has no car seat and has never offered to actually drive the baby anywhere.
    How he plans to actually care for the baby ( if he establishes paternity and gets custody) is a mystery.
    How likely is a judge to grant shared custody in this circumstance?

    • I wish I could help you, but what you’re asking is a legal custody. I can’t answer legal questions online or outside the state of Illinois.

      I highly recommend that you have your daughter consult with a good divorce attorney in your area sooner rather than later. It’s not that she needs to start any legal proceeding against her son’s dad. But, she needs to know what her options are if she does end up in court.

      best,

      Karen

  • “Plus, one of the factors a court will consider in making a custody decision is whether a parent who wants custody is actually paying to support his/her kids. The bottom line is that, these are your kids. Support them.”
    This is not factual, the courts typically are interested in maximizing the payout from the higher earner (Father), a high earning father who is asking for custody is expected to sacrifice his time with the children so he can contribute more financially. I have seen it time and time again. As my lawyer told me,
    in Family Court, “No Good Deed Goes Unpunished”

  • I like how you stated that you should consult with experts before you start a war. My sister is currently battling her ex-husband for custody. I will definitely pass along your tips to my sister so that she can handle this situation in the best way possible.

  • My ex and I divorced over 7 years ago. But we are still going through custody battle for my son. I’m married to a serviceman and He is also engage. But the problem is he is getting deploy in couple weeks and while his deploy, we are also relocating in end of the year. I ask for temporary custody or relocation but he is giving me hard time about it. He want to give his fiancé basically his parental rights to my son. Now, I’m not sure if the court would give her the right but is that even legal? Does she even have a right to my son? I thought that if one parent deploy, the custody will go to the other parents. Plus he wants to give the fiancé a visitation right as well. I feel like she is taking over my place. Please give advice. We are going to mediator right now.

    • I wish I could help you, but what you’re asking are legal questions. I can’t give legal advice online or outside the state of Illinois. I strongly suggest you consult with a good divorce lawyer in your area about this.

      Also, working this out with a mediator is a great idea. It will be faster and cheaper than fighting in court.

      Best,

      Karen

  • I spent $10K and I’m broke now, with zero chance of ever having enough to get a lawyer again for custody modification. I don’t know if it’s even possible.
    My ex is withholding ALL information about the household and my son for almost 2 years now. I am the last to know. My son is suffering. He is forced to share a room with an unrelated child on the spectrum who is 15, my son is not even 8 yet. I didn’t even know they’d moved in until my son broke down in tears telling me this child was hurting him and laughing about it. I have no idea what could be going on now. My son practically stopped talking to me after that because I relayed the info to his dad to address the situation. I believe he was punished and is now afraid to tell anyone anything, no matter how bad it is.
    My ex is playing cruel games and using my son as a pawn in order to hurt me.
    If I remove myself from the situation, maybe things will improve for my son. I’m almost ready to end it though, because it’s pretty much hopeless.

    • I’m so sorry to hear about your plight. I’m not sure what you mean by “ending it,” but if you’re thinking about taking your life, please call this number first: 1-800-273-8255.

      Check out the suicide prevention website.

      Your situation may be bad, but it’s not hopeless!

      If you hurt yourself, you will hurt your son. So please, I urge you to make a call, get help, get a therapist. Thinkgs are not as dark as they seem.

      Karen

  • My daughter walked in an caught her husband having sex while 8 months pregnant with second child. When she filed for divorce he filed restraining order against her on himself and child . He and his family are loaded with money. They are trying to get custody. We do have attorney but so do they . They file continuance , motion everything to stall.we don’t think they will mediate. I’m just need hope, some of the stuff is in appeals court I haven’t seen my grandson for a year they have my daughter on supervised visitation. It was to be temporary order but has not been heard judges kicking it around

    • Oh my! Don’t give up! I know that things can be bleak, and it sounds like they have not gone well for your daughter. It’s unfortunate that the divorce turned out to be so ugly. I’m sure that’s really hard on your daughter. What she needs is your support. You need to be strong for her. As you see, litigation can take a crazy amount of time. If you want her to do the best she can do, then staying strong for her and supporting her will help immensely.

      Meanwhile, remember to take care of yourself. Get support for yourself if you need it. (Even though it’s not your divorce, having a therapist you can talk to can often help you too!)

      Hang in there!

      Karen

  • This is me “Even if the court decision doesn’t go your way, don’t let that deter you from caring about your kids. Don’t let that stop you from seeing your kids as much as you can. Even if you have been deeply hurt by your ex, the lawyers, or the judge, check your ego at the door. Step up and show up for your kids. In the end, that’s really what it’s all about.”

    I have had to fight through false allegations of abuse, the loss of my children, and a supremely expensive effort to clear my name of the abuse and get time restored with my children. Visibly, it seems that my spouse, despite the false allegations and alienation, has not been held accountable for those destructive choices.

    Thank you for sharing this. my children and I got a raw deal, but I still need to be the best parent I can be despite the less than stellar outcome.

  • My ex husband lied to the courts in order to get temporary custody of our two boys ages 6 and 11 at the time. They are now 9 and almost 14 and I am still fighting to get my time unsupervised. His attorney was very unethical and has pushed many lies to get his client his way at the expense of our children.
    The final court order for disolution of marriage was submitted without my approval and signed by the judge. I never even got to look at it once it was submitted. It required a full physiological evaluation on me that I did not even agree to. Now 5 thousand dollars later the evalaution is done and I am waiting for the report. My children have been alientated from me and the father controls who he allows to facilitate my visits with my children. He is the one in control and he is alientaing my children from me. There seems to be of little hope in the screwed up court system. My attorney seems like she has been swayed by the other side to allow all this to happen and do nothing to change it or try to make it right.
    I aso disagree with saying no matter what the court decided dont let that come in between seeing your kids. What do you do when you have absolutley no control of decisions being made that futher your presence in the lives of your children??? What can you do when the low life , of an ex husband lied to the court with false accusation that have no been proven but have caused Err on the side of caution decisions by the judges??

    • Unfortunately, you’re right. In the situation you have described, there is not a lot you can do. If all you have is supervised visitation, then that’s what you have to live with right now. You must follow the court orders that are in place in your case. All you can do is to get yourself the best attorney possible and fight to remove the supervision and increase your time with your kids step by step.

      I wish I had more helpful things to say. But, I just don’t. I’m sorry.

      Karen

  • It’s good to know that you need to demonstrate to the court that you’ll be able to care for your children in the best way possible in order to get custody. My brother and his wife have been fighting, and it looks like they’re spiraling towards divorce. I’ll pass this information along to my brother so that he can custody for his kids.

  • 4 yrs and almost 60K in and I am walking away from one of my kids. He hit one, lost visitation then he refused to get back in the car 90 days later when he got it back. I had to yank him out of one school and put in him my zone school, yet he had “control” over school district in the final divorce. Now I am in contempt of court. Then I got cancer lost both breasts, then my son tried to kill himself twice then my son got cancer. 3 lawyers in, 4 yrs later, its not that I am out of money but my son turns 18 in 39 days and the other one turns 16 shortly. I just cannot do this anymore, I deserve a life – Meanwhile that bastard has not paid court ordered child support since March, yet he is “17,500” ahead no can explain that one to me, he has had 5 jobs in 11 yrs (last 4 from which he was fired) We had 4 conferences, so many motions and court appearances that I have lost count. There are only victims in a divorce, children and broke bitter ex’s. Now my daughter is stuck with a stepmother who makes her clean, squeals on her and they dine out and go on vacation without her, left to fend for herself. Someone has to walk away from narcissist and that someone is me. I work 3 jobs and now I will have no problem paying child support but it really boils down to whose richer and crazier.

  • Hi Karen,
    My sons father and I have joint 50/50 custody of our 7 year old child although he was granted legal decision making.( dad gets wednesday thursday, i get Monday tuesday and we alternate weekends) I dont think that either of us having full custody would be good for my son as I do realize the importance of having both parents. In addition, I dont consider myself or him an unfit parent so i dont see the need for either of us to have more over the other. Our relationship ended badly due to him having an affair with a close friend of mine and we just went our separate ways. Ever since then he has been very abusive in any way he can since i no longer want to be romantically involved with him.
    SInce we do have an order in place, theres no need for communication with him obviously other than for the child. He does, however, feel the need to try to control anything i do with my son on the basis that he has “legal decision making”. He has signed up my son for baseball (which i have no problem with whatsoever) but he did not inform me before hand and now practices fall on my own parenting time. He is also demanding i pay him half of the costs of enrollment and uniforms.
    He also becomes frustrated because i do not buy my child brand name items ( I allow my child to pick his shoes, usually some action character or light up shoes that are not to his fathers liking vs his fathers purchases of Michael Jordan shoes or Lebron James shoes) His purchases are nice as well, but they are unecessarily expensive and i see no reason to purchase such expensive items when his foot is growing at a rapid rate, and he destroys them within a month while playing and running at school.
    Because of situations like these that inconvenience HIM or that arent to his taste or personal ways, he deems me as an “unfit” mother and is now initiating the process to return to court.
    Is there actually anything that he is going to be able to fight in court because i am not splitting costs of baseball and because i dont purchase clothing/shoes items that are to his taste??
    I feel ridiculous even asking about this but , what is it that he CAN even do when we both do our parts? like i mentioned before, dealing with him is a pain in the rear by far. but i wouldnt deem him as “unfit” … Help !

    • I wish I could help you but you’re asking legal questions I can’t answer online. Your answers will depend on the law in your state, your judge, and the exact terms of your divorce decree. So you need to talk to a good divorce lawyer in your area and find out what your options are, and whether you can modify your divorce decree at this point in time.

      Best,

      Karen

  • I agree that it is very important to support your kids when you’re going through a divorce and custody battle. My brother and his husband are, unfortunately, pretty close to getting a divorce and they have three kids. They’re both looking for attorney’s right now, and I know that my brother will continue to support his kids even if the divorce goes through.

  • I have 2 kids (1 almost 18) and (1 12yo) the older does not have a relationship with her father anymore (several reasons), but my concern is my 12yo, I have primary placement; the agreement written is after school 2hrs daily / and every other weekend sleepover with dad. Due to some recent issues, she is no longer spending overnights with him – he does not engage, sleeps through their time, she feels alone.

    She has been struggling with Anxiety/mood stabilization/panic attacks and had been hospitalized for 5weeks this past year. He does not believe in mental health concerns and feels she just has attitude and ignores the signs and tells her to control her feelings and she does not need (Meds/therapists/psch docs) ***note he has also been diagnosed Bi-polar,but does not treat or acknowledge.

    she now doesn’t want to be forced to stay after school either – but I am afraid, if I let her decide on the quantity of time, he will take me to court for contempt of decree. ***any advice how to move forward

    • The best way to move forward is to get an agreement from him (preferably in writing) that changes your daughter’s parenting time schedule. It can be temporary. But you need to get that.

      If your husband won’t sign an agreement changing the time schedule the only way you can get it changed is by going back to court. That will be expensive and time-consuming. But if you don’t get your agreement changed, then disregarding it (for whatever reason) puts you in contempt of court. That’s NOT what you want!

      One other option would be to see if you could get your daughter and your ex into some kind of family therapy. That could help a ton, and is a great idea no matter what. It doesn’t sound like he’ll go, but it might be worth a try.

      I wish I had better news for you.

      Good luck!

      Karen

  • My ex and I have been separated and divorced from2013 and well the past few year him and his girlfriend are just plan scarring the stuffings out of my kids he left a hand print around my eldest sons throat and slapped my youngest girl and they still admit to doing nothing wrong and so forth. When I picked up my kids my son had faint finger bruises on his neck and well my friend called CPS and well yea they did nothing because my ex. Threaten the kids if they tell the truth they will not like it or even get in bigger trouble with worse punishments how can I help my kids open up and tell the truth to people that need to hear. Because as of right now everyone thinks I am a dog chasing my tale so to say.

    • Just because CPS won’t do anything doesn’t mean that the divorce court won’t do anything. They are two totally separate systems.

      That being said, you definitely need solid evidence if you want to proceed in divorce court. I strongly suggest talking to a good divorce lawyer in your area to see what your options may be. I don’t know if there’s anything more you can do right now or not. But at least after you talk to an attorney YOU will know what you can do.

      Best,

      Karen

  • I filed for divorce a year ago, and he’s been out of the house 14 months now. We have 2 tween kids. I filed for divorce due to his refusals to address his mental health and the emotional and psychological abuse toward the kids and I. He blamed our youngest (or me) for every problem.

    Since he’s been out by of the house, I’ve reminded the kids daily to call or reply to his texts, but they say they’re happy he doesn’t live with us anymore and don’t want to talk to him. The kids and I have been in therapy individually for a couple years. Youngest has anger issues, oldest has extreme anxiety and panic attacks. Both kids got %90 better after he moved out.

    The first 4 months, he never made plans to see the kids. I tried to arrange things- and eventually got an agreed visitation plan (unofficially) for 2x/week for 90 minutes each.
    Once Covid hit a few month later, he refused to allow them inside his apartment (even rain/cold/bathroom needs). My attorney initially said she would file serious endangerment and protective order- but since I had a planned trip out of state- she waited until we got home. Then she changed her mind and said we don’t have enough evidence possibly.

    The kids gave specific testimony to their therapist, and I have written journal accounts of their visits from what they’ve told me. He ended up voluntarily agreeing to several weeks of mandatory family counseling and supervised visits, which ended with an agreed order for unsupervised visits again- still 2h/2x weekly.

    I know the kids don’t feel emotionally safe there, and are still afraid they won’t be allowed inside. We have an upcoming status and have to decide between a GAL or custody evaluation. My attorney said both are fine, but is worried a GAL will excuse themselves because they aren’t a therapist.
    Any thoughts on how to decide?
    Also he’s now claiming he will give a proposed parenting plan- but its already late coming, and he indicated he’d ask for increasing parenting time, as time goes on.
    I just want to protect the kids from further emotional abuse. It’s heartbreaking when they cry and have migraines on visit days, and I have to make them go.

    • My heart goes out to you! I can hear how much you’re struggling as you watch your kids suffer. Unfortunately, at this point you have to work within the divorce system to try to make headway.

      You asked whether you should get a GAL or a custody evaluation. I’m not sure it’s an “either-or” question. You may end up with both.

      How do you make a decision like this? You need to sit down with your attorney and ask a lot of very pointed questions. You need to know the pros and cons of each option. You need to know what the likelihood is that a judge will appoint a GAL anyway, if you and your ex can’t agree on custody and parenting time even after a custody evaluation. You need to know how likely it is that your judge would do whatever a custody evaluation says.

      Perhaps most importantly, you need to know your goal.

      Are you trying to limit the amount of time your STBX has the kids? Are you trying to force your STBX to attend family counseling for a longer period of time? Are you trying to make sure the kids aren’t left out in the cold when they go visit their dad? What are you trying to accomplish?

      Once you know what your ultimate goal is, that will help you decide what your appropriate course of action should be now.

      Also, remember that a GAL and a custody evaluation might both say things you don’t like. They might recommend that your kids spend more time with your STBX than what you think is appropriate. The judge still can make decisions you think are wrong. With all of that in mind, if there’s any way that you can work something out voluntarily with your ex, that might not be a bad idea. Of course, that may not be possible. If he has mental health issues he may not be willing to compromise or agree on anything. But if he is, that’s something to consider.

      Best,

      Karen

      • Thank you for your prompt reply. The county only has one contested family court judge, and they are brand new in the last few months, so no one really knows how they’re likely to decide cases like this.

        I think you’re right, I don’t know what I want the result to be, other than safe kids. I honestly don’t know what that looks like.

        I have heard from my attorney and the kids’ therapist that the previous judge always gave roughly 8-10 hours a week of parenting time, even in tough situations. He may agree temporarily to 4, which is better. But in the same breath they also have said my STBX is very unusual and his issues are evident and he’s not showing any progress (even after several supervised visits per their reports, and several family and individual therapy sessions).

        You’ve given me things to consider and a different way to look at our situation.

  • I live in a different country with my child because my husband agreed our relocation. I have a notarized consent. But he decided to file for custody (asking for my child to come back to the US). The judge ruled that custody should be decided where my child lives. Then he filed for reconsideration, and the judged changed her ruling to joint custody, primary physical custody to the mother, reasonable visitation and more than 4 times a week of FaceTime. He is still not happy, and he won’t stop fighting. Meanwhile, he’s never sent our belongings to us for over 2 years. We have lived without our things such a long time….. He started living with his mistress on the day of our separation, and he wants to raise our child with her.

    Because this is an international matter it’s very complicated, but his lawyer doesn’t understand. My husband must have been paying a lot of money to his lawyer, even though whatever outcome he gets in the US, it won’t be implemented in my country. I explained it to both of them but they don’t listen, and whatever I wrote in the email or message, it was used against me in his documents to the court, so I can’t write anything to him anymore.

    Are there any ways to make him stop fighting?

    • Oh my! It sounds like you really have your hands full!

      The hard thing about custody, parenting time, and pretty much any other child-related issue is that you can fight about them for a very long time. The situation with children can be ever-changing as they grow, which leaves the door open to endless litigation.

      Can you make your husband stop fighting?

      No. Not really. He has a right to file any legally based claim he can come up with. The key is to come up with a strategy that makes HIM want to stop fighting on his own.

      I’m assuming that you have a US attorney. I would ask your attorney what your options are. There are many strategies that you might be able to use, but listing them all on a public forum is not a good idea – for you or for anyone else who may want to use the strategies in the wrong way! Plus, what strategies will actually be available to you depends on the facts and circumstances of your case and the law of the state your divorce is in (as well as the laws that apply in international divorces). The best thing you can do is talk to your lawyer about this and explore your options.

      Know this much, though, the legal system is often slow. It’s worse now because of CoVid. And, as I already mentioned, parents can fight over their kids for a variety of reasons until the children are 18. So the race you’re running is more of a marathon than a sprint.

      Do your best to be patient. Work with your lawyer. (And if you don’t have a lawyer, you probably want to at least start consulting with one!) Consult with other attorneys or coaches privately if you need more ideas.

      I know all of this is probably not what you want to hear. (Sorry!)

      Hang in there.

      Karen

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