By Randy Powers Jr.-
Little, Gilman-Tepper & Batley, P.A.
In domestic relations law conflict has consequences. Whether the consequence is that a Judge gets involved to make a tough decision, you are charged a large bill for attorney’s fees to resolve the conflict, or whether a child is negatively affected from the turmoil, it is in your best interest to minimize conflict as much as possible.
I wanted to point out a few things I have noticed over the years which seem to exacerbate conflict and share some tips that may help you. It all starts with respect and communication. Both seem to go a long way to keeping client’s out of the courtroom, minimizing attorney’s fees, and protecting their children.
1) If you perform timesharing exchanges show up on time every time. Sure, things in life happen like traffic accidents and the boss occasionally keeps you late, but such instances are generally the exception and not the rule. By showing up late you are effectively telling the other parent that their time is not valuable. If you are going to be late always notify the other parent of how late you intend to be and apologize for the inconvenience. If your case and Court orders will permit, you should consider offering to meet the other parent at a location of their choosing which may be more convenient for them. I think we can all agree that it is not fair to your child or children to keep them waiting when they count on you to be there. The other parent will appreciate your timeliness and respect. Additionally, showing up on time for timesharing exchanges will never hurt your custody case.
2) Notify the other parent of fun things involving your children. Has your child ever done something you found to be absolutely hilarious? Have they ever had a cute moment with a pet that you just had to photograph? These are opportunities for you to include the other parent in something they otherwise would not have been able to experience. Sending them a quick text message or email can really go a long way to making them feel good about their child.
3) Talk to your support system before you blow up on the other party. Chances are the other party knows exactly how to push your buttons, whether intentional or not. It is important that you control how you react to the other party’s behavior. The worst thing you can do is lose your temper and make a situation worse. I would advise that you try and talk to your support system before you let your temper get the best of you. We all need to vent from time-to-time and your friends and family members can help you cool down. Hopefully, they can also help you consider the other party’s point of view as well.
4) Timely respond to emails, text messages, and voicemails. Being ignored is never fun. When ignored we typically become agitated and either repeat our concerns or elevate our means of communicating our concerns (such as raising our voice). If your job won’t let you return communications throughout the day let the other party know that. However, when you get off of work simply respond to the other person. A simple, “Hey I got your message, I was at work and couldn’t answer my phone” will go a long way.” Besides, you don’t want to be seen as an obstructionist in front of a Judge do you? Moreover, if you don’t timely respond, you likely will get bombarded with additional messages, a letter from the other side’s lawyer, or possibly a motion.
5) Don’t be afraid to admit that you were wrong. Nobody is perfect and we all make mistakes. Sometimes a simple apology is worth its weight in gold. I have seen tens of thousands of dollars in child support arrears waived simply because of a meaningful apology.
Try and think of the above examples as an opportunity to decrease conflict. Simple gestures matter greatly, and the other parent, along with the Court will take notice of this which is ultimately to your benefit.