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High Conflict Custody Cases

A separation or divorce can be hard on families. It’s difficult for the parents, let alone for the children. The parents can make choices such as when to separate, where to move to, or how cooperative they want to be. The children are left with no choice in the matter, feeling caught in the middle, and sometimes they are pressured to take sides with a parent.

Children are affected by their parent’s separation. Often, they are ignored because the parents are dealing with their own turmoil; sometimes they receive misinformation from their parents, family members or their friends at school. Sometimes they must quickly adjust to a new stepparent while they are still processing the loss of frequent contact with their other parent. These adjustments are minor compared to the effects of a high conflict child custody fight.

Of course, nearly every parent wants to do what’s best for their child and that should include avoiding the stress of a high conflict child custody fight. Still, sometimes the drama of a high conflict divorce or child custody dispute cannot be avoided. Either the other parent refuses to settle on reasonable terms or your child is in a situation that litigation just cannot be avoided. To ensure matters are resolved as swiftly and positively as possible, it is important that parents turn to an experienced Grand Rapids child custody lawyer for guidance. 

What Is Considered a High Conflict Child Custody Case?

A high conflict child custody case doesn’t just occur when litigation is ongoing. Some signs and examples of high conflict child custody case are:

  • One of the parents ignores a valid court order and supplies some “self-help methods”;
  • Some alienating behavior is present;
  • Continued litigation even though similar subjects were previously litigated;
  • Litigation is started immediately without any attempts to resolve the dispute with the other parent.

What Causes a High Conflict Child Custody Case?

Often one parent takes an extremely unreasonable position at the very beginning of the child custody dispute. Some examples are:

  • A parent’s unwillingness to accept that there will be days and times that they will not see their child;
  • A parent’s attempt to get the upper hand in litigation by exaggerating past disputes. A parent may obtain a personal protection order which will eliminate all contact between the other parent and the child for some time;
  • A parent’s unwillingness to accept that each parent contributes to child-rearing differently;
  • A parent’s unwillingness to accept that the marriage has ended;
  • A parent’s deep desire to control all facets of life; especially child-rearing;
  • A parent’s untreated mental health condition.

What Can You Do When You Are Involved in a High Conflict Child Custody Case?

It is important to realize that some of our advice will feel counterintuitive. We tell our clients to keep the other parent informed about important information about the children. We know it’s frustrating, but a judge will want to see you co-parent; or at least try. We tell our clients to reach out and try to make agreements; even if it has never worked in the past; keep trying anyway. Spend the money on a counselor; even if you’ve tried in the past and the other parent just sits there and refuses to cooperate; you may end up with a positive recommendation from the counselor and if you proceed to a court hearing the judge will appreciate you trying to do the right thing for your children.

With every attempt of being reasonable, informing the other parent, and trying to reach an agreement, make sure that you keep a written record. A text or email will provide written proof of your reasonableness and the other parent’s failure to cooperate.

What Can We Do For You in a High Conflict Child Custody Case?

At Kraayeveld Law, we provide our clients with the necessary guidance and advice during every step of this high conflict dispute. We provide our clients with the information and tools to make the right decisions on a daily basis and we aggressively litigate our client’s rights to obtain the results requested.

Our strength in winning child custody cases is in thorough preparation. We work with our clients every step of the way, and then aggressively pursue a change of custody that will benefit our client and his or her children.

Each case is different. Sometimes we work with our vast network of expert witnesses to provide the judge with the necessary expert testimony. In some cases, our client will benefit from having a Guardian ad Litem appointed. We work with our client and the Guardian ad Litem during this process, to obtain the results requested by our client. Occasionally, the judge appoints a parenting time coordinator. Again, we work with our client and the parenting time coordinator to ensure that the end result will benefit our clients.

What Will Happen to My Children After a High Conflict Child Custody Case?

There is no dispute among child custody attorneys, judges, and mental health professionals that children are hurt by high conflict child custody cases. Professionals and policymakers often argue about the amount of parenting time that should be awarded while the conflict is raging. After all, the children can’t avoid noticing the fights, the arguments, and the little (or big) jabs that parents make about each other. Recent studies show that shared parenting time is not harmful in high conflict situations; even more so, frequent contact with both parents offsets some of the harm caused by the conflict.

Regardless of the studies, children will benefit from counseling by a competent counselor. Children will benefit when both parents cooperate with the counselor or obtain their own counseling.

If you do not have a child custody order that allows you to spend reasonable time with your kids, are in a situation where your children will benefit from a custody order modification, or if you find yourself having to defend against a frivolous change of custody petition, please contact the Grand Rapids child custody attorneys at Kraayeveld Law so that we can work together to obtain the best results for your children.