Going to court negatively impacts the children, Right? I participate in a number of the online legal question and answer forums I often see that claim. But, it is always preceded by allegations that the other parent is not allowing visits, won't let the parent have time with the child, breaks his or her agreements to allow a visit, or demands that all schedules and agreement must be his or her way -- all without going to court. Let me be blunt. The only way parents going to court for assistance in establishing custody and parent-time orders impacts a child is if one, or both, of the parents put that child in the middle and involve the child in the case. If both parents are doing what is best for the child, then the child will not even know that there is a court case, because that case is between the adults. So, going to court to obtain orders concerning custody and parent-time should not directly impact the children. Any impact the child would be passive by way of having parents who love the child and allow the child to openly love each parent -- that can only be a positive impact. Plus, going to court will provide a set, consistent, and predictable schedule for parent-time. A schedule that the parents and the child can count on, and look forward to with happiness and anticipation. So, if the other parent is already causing problems by denying access, limiting parent-time, or playing games with dates and time, that parent is already putting the child in the middle and causing the child harm by way of depriving the child time with the other parent. In those situations, the one parent needs to be an adult and take the situation to court to obtain appropriate orders, including orders to keep the child out of the case. And, I bet that it will be the offending parent who then cries that going to court will "negatively impact the child"!
If you are reading this, then you know that a Special Master can be used in situations where there is high-conflict in a divorce or custody case; or after the case, if the conflict continues or worsens. But, how do you find a Special Master.
During, and after, a divorce there is often conflict - a great deal of conflict. The conflict often involve the rights of parents in relation to the children: custody disputes, parent-time (visitation) conflicts; and, parenting styles or roles. The children are affected and pulled by parents, and the parents are frustrated by the costs, and weeks of delays, in having to go back to court to determine their rights, or enforce the terms of a divorce, custody, or paternity order.
Notice that "strategy" in divorce is first; that is because simple aggression in a divorce matter, or in any family law matter is not good. If you really want to burn your spouse, or ex-spouse, because they cheated on you, or some other perceived wrong, then you will simply be wasting your time and money. In general, the courts are not going to punish anybody like that, and Utah law says that things like alimony cannot be used to punish or reward a party.There are times to be aggressive in carrying out your over all plan. Times to clearly assert, with determination, your position and your goals as allowed under law. If, for instance, your spouse abuses the children or there is conflict, you need to stand strong and marshal all of your evidence to protect your children -- that type of problem does not really allow for compromise, not if you truly care for your children.But first, there needs to be the plan, the strategy. You and your attorney need to sit down, determine what you want, what your liabilities may be, and what your rights are. You do have to know where you are going before you start this journey, and it is often best to plan a route, and potential alternate route. To do that, your attorney needs to educate to the risks and benefits of your position and goal.With your plan and strategy determined, it is time to proceed. Depending on what the other side does, you may well have to become aggressive. The other side may play word games, delay matters, become exceedingly verbose, aggressive, or simply refuse to do anything. It is then that you should appropriately assert your position with simple clarity and force. You are not being nasty, you are simply moving the case forward to cut short whatever shenanigans the other side is throwing at you. Sure, the other side will get upset and make all kinds of accusations about you. But if you are using your aggression appropriately it won't really matter. Because you are diligently working toward your goal by clearly and concisely presenting your position to the court. And, if the court gets its decision wrong, you will need the same kind of strategy and appropriate assertiveness to appeal that decision.One final caveat: strategy and aggression may be appropriate in litigation, but aggression is not appropriate in settlement negotiations or mediation. Mediation in particular, is a procedure to work together for a mutually beneficial resolution of the issues.
It is still amazing how divorced parents with shared custody can always seem to fixate on the past, the perceived wrongs they endured on issues surrounding the children.
Joint legal custody, with some form of joint parenting, is approaching the norm. There are two sides to the issue, which are addressed elsewhere. But, I continue to see recent posts and articles about the issue of how do I co-parent with an uncooperative (or narcissistic) parent.