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Why parents should not try to annihilate each other in court

In highly contested child custody cases, it is natural for parents to point out rather vehemently the shortcomings of the other parent. Parents in these situations have a misguided belief that putting out the other’s “dirty laundry” will help them emerge as the better parent.

However, family court judges are not necessarily impressed with how one parent can damage the other parent’s reputation in front of the court. In fact, it could be seen as a lack of maturity for either parent. After all, courts have an expectation for parents to put their personal issues aside and work together for the benefit of the children. 

This ability is critical because children tend to emulate what they see from their parents. So if they see that the one way to resolve a dispute or defend themselves is to become verbally defensive (or even violent), this could be viewed as a potentially harmful influence that could limit time with a parent.

As such, while it may be tempting to humiliate the other parent by “sandbagging” them in court with an avalanche of negative information, it may not guarantee that a family court judge will award you the custody or parenting time package you seek. Indeed, there are parents who have significant issues that the court must be made aware of (i.e. substance abuse issues, anger problems, physical abuse), but a parent may be best served by focusing on how their attributes satisfy the child’s best interests.

If you have questions about how the best interest factors are exercised in custody decisions, an experienced family law attorney can help. 

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