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Custody and Civility

Civility during a custody dispute. Does it exist? In an earlier article, How to Prepare for Divorce, one of the pointers was to "remain civil." I've received some feedback and questions on this point, wherein people asked, "can being too nice hurt my case?" And, more prevalently, "how to be nice when the other parent is not."

I maintain that it is always best to take the high road in family court. As the road less traveled, it is more difficult; however the reward is worthwhile. When dealing with the other parent who is in acting in bad faith, it is understandable that you would want to retaliate: to cause inconvenience to the other parent; to be deliberately late for exchanges; to be inflexible; to say, 'to hell with this judgment.' But take caution. This type of behavior often catches up with the offending parent, can cost substantial time and money, is toxic, and is damaging to your health and your children.

Overall, fighting bad behavior with bad behavior is just not worth it. If you learn how to deal with the bad faith behaviors of the other parent, you will have a better quality of life than if you engaged in those same behaviors; and, most importantly, your children will be better off now and in the long run.

This does not mean you should rollover, tolerate the other parent's bad behavior, or to give into unreasonable demands. If the other parent is willfully violating the Court's orders, you need to file a rule for contempt and seek redress with the Court. Punishment can be payment of fees, fines, loss of time with the children, and sometimes incarceration.

Maintaining your own composure and rising above the tactics of the bad faith parent will help you stay in good graces with the Court so you are able to get the relief you need.

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