Could You, Would You?

I have seen many people do many things for varying reasons when faced with a hotly contested divorce or child custody matter.  Unless you ever confront such a difficult situation, some of the things people do may seem unimaginable.  But, if you were placed in such a position, could you, would you….

Spend Your Children’s College Education Savings on Attorney’s Fees?  Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for parents to do this.  They need to fund the attorney’s fees involved in a bitter divorce or custody case, so they deplete assets and wealth which otherwise could have been saved and used for the children’s college education.  The anger is so high, settlement is an unthinkable solution.

Pass Up Career Advancement to Impact a Support Order?  This falls in the category of “cutting off your nose to spite your face.”  Though increased income for either party impacts the support order, the party earning the income always keeps more of the income than he or she pays in support; or keeps more of that income than will be the amount of the reduction in support.

Not Seek Employment to Maximize the Amount of Support Received?  Except in extraordinary circumstances, stay-at-home parents/spouses will be required to re-enter the workforce at some point.  Many people delay the re-entry to the workforce so that they maximize the amount of support received.  My question to the individuals who intentionally choose to not seek employment is:  what happens if the other parent/spouse upon whom you rely for support, dies, becomes disabled or unemployed? How will you support yourself and your children?

Intentionally Interfere with the Relationship Between your Children and the Other Parent?   Putting aside the cases involving domestic violence and objectively bad or dangerous parenting, many parents intentionally interfere with the parent/child relationship for a variety reasons, such as to impact the amount of child support; to induce the child to align with the angry parent and turn against the other parent as a means of punishing that other parent; or to avoid seeing the other parent at frequent custodial exchanges.

Tell Your Child Derogatory Stories About the Other Parent?  Whether or not the statements are true is not the point.  To tell a child derogatory statements about his or her other parent is a harmful insult to the child (the child feels half of him or her is bad and not loved).

Relinquish Custody of Your Child?  This sounds unfathomable, but I have seen parents do this in situations where the child has been placed in the middle of the custody battle by the other parent. This causes the child extreme stress which results in physical, emotional and mental damage, all simply as a means of keeping the child out of the other parent’s life (see above for possible reasons). The parent who is the target in such situations will sometimes withdraw from the fight for custody as the last and only means to remove the child from enduring the ongoing, pervasive and damaging conflict.

These situations may seem farfetched, but trust me they are not.  Family law attorneys face these situations frequently with their clients and must counsel their clients on how to address these issues and the impact on the family.  So, when you hear a story about what someone has done in their divorce or child custody case, do not be too quick to judge their decisions.  Instead, think that if you were in that position, could you, would you, do what they did given the same circumstances?