Divorce is extremely hard on both parents and children. In some cases, the stress and conflict during the proceedings can seriously damage your child’s ability to form lasting relationships as they age. Arizona Family Rule 48 does give parents a way to change custody if their child is in danger. But in most situations, conflict cannot be solved with litigation; that just delays the moment when a judge hands back your family (e.g. after a contested hearing) to see if you can do better. So even though courtrooms exist, you should try to protect your children during (and after) a divorce by keeping conflict to a minimum.
Control your emotions
If you are emotional about something, take time to calm down before co-parenting. Do not take the bait if your former spouse attempts to force you into an argument. Make sure you are under control at all times. If they exhibit persistent sociopathic or narcissistic tendencies, by all means document it; the day may come when you have to show that to a judge as an example of why joint legal decision-making does not work. But if you rage or fire back at your ex out of frustration, three bad things will happen: (i) you will damage yourself psychologically over time, (ii) you will only encourage your ex to keep acting that way, and (iii) the judge could misconstrue the problem, blaming you for “losing your cool” rather than take the extra time to dig for the root cause.
Do not force your children to choose
Forcing kids to choose between separated parents can lead to serious psychological problems. And if your inclusion of the children in adult issues descends into exaggeration of the other parent’s failures – or outright falsehoods – you can lose your share of decision-making authority (or parenting time) due to concerns over parental alienation. In sum, it is best to leave the children out of your arguments.
Argue calmly and constructively
Conflict is inevitable during a high-tension divorce. If you disagree with your former spouse, make sure you conduct the argument calmly and constructively. Develop polite strategies for walking away from an argument if it spirals out of countrol. Avoid name-calling or insults, even if they are deserved – and especially when children can hear it.
Have a plan
Having a detailed, written parenting plan can help you avoid arguments over legal decision-making, parenting styles, and the child access schedule caused by insufficient specifics. With a little effort at the drafting stage, an agreed plan will also reduce the need for court involvement to decide ambiguities or unanswered questions you could have resolved on your own.
Parental conflict is almost inevitable during a divorce, but there are ways you can mitigate it. Using these tips can help you avoid the necessity of more litigation or even an emergency custody order. If you would like guidance, do not hesitate to call us for help!