My worst nightmare as a divorce lawyer is that thousands of children are growing up wondering why the “grown-ups” didn’t protect them from their parents’ high conflict divorces. That’s why I produced Talk to Strangers. But long before that, I put together ten questions to ask any of my clients who were considering a custody battle.
If it’s your co-parent who seems intent on fighting over the kids, see if he or she has answers for the following:
1. Do you want your children to endure months of anxiety and uncertainty as to where they will be living and whether they will have the relationship they want with each of their parents and their siblings?
2. Do you want your children subjected to interviews by attorneys, mental health professionals and court personnel during which they will be afraid and conflicted, and will feel pressured to be loyal to both their parents?
3. Do you want your children subjected to the possibility of inquiry by these professionals about the most personal aspects of their lives including their fears and frailties?
4. Clinical studies have shown that high conflict between parents exposes children to serious psychological harm. Do you want to risk your children developing emotional disorders as a result of your high-conflict custody battle?
5. Do you want your inability to resolve your differences to serve as a model of parenting for your children?
6. Do you want intimate details of your life to become a matter of public record?
7. Do you want a stranger deciding how much you will see your children, and how you will make decisions concerning them?
8. Do you want a substantial portion of your assets used for fees of attorneys and expert witnesses with no guarantee that you will be happy with the result?
9. Do you want to give up attention to detail that a negotiated agreement will have but that a judge’s decision will not?
10. Do you want to engage in costly, time-consuming and rancorous litigation that can make future cooperation between you and your co-parent extremely difficult at best, and the resumption of amicable joint parenting nearly impossible.