It is common for a parent to feel depressed, anxious and upset during a child custody dispute. However, you can use this as an opportunity to make yourself stronger by using these emotions and experiences to survive and plan your way forward.
The following are some ideas of ways how you can cope during child custody dispute:
1. Never stop researching and learning. There are lots of resources online to educate and support you. Watching telly, playing games, wasting time online and then doing everything at the last minute is a surefire way to blow everything in court. Get organised asap!
2. Have a positive outlook and help the Court. Yes, it is horrendously hard but you must remain calm and collective in court, especially when the other parent has representation. Any outburst will be ceased upon. Think about the situation from the Court’s perspective – what does the Court want? Answer: they want you to help them to make the right decision! Getting angry or slagging off your ex WILL NOT HELP! Keep calm and give the Court the information they need to help make the right decision for the child/children.
3. Condition your mind. Your brain will get you through this, so look after it. Cut caffeine, drink lots of water, watch your diet, get a sleep routine and cut the noise out of your life. I did not do any of this during my child custody dispute. By the time I figured it out, it was too late!
4. I mean this with all the love and respect in the world – DO NOT BLAME YOURSELF IF THE OUTCOME IS DEVASTATING – it happened to me, I blamed myself, thought I’d let the children down, it was horrendous. But I (gradually) realised two things:
a) I must make the absolute most of the contact time I have, I will not be a Saturday McDonalds dad – I will plan ahead and prepare some real memory making stuff! And I will draw upon those memories between contact time to remind me I how much joy I bring to my children!
b) Things change, nothing is forever, yes the courts can be tough, especially for us dads, but I must use my non-contact time to learn and grow as a parent and start planning how to get more contact with my children.
5. Don’t expect solicitors and barristers to play nice and have a moral conscious. It is a pure pain being attacked as a parent. A molehill will become a mountain and without any regard or emotion, they will make the playbook of allegations that will cause long lasting ripples that can make things much worse between you and your ex. It should not happen, but it does, so think about what they may ask you in court and prepare accordingly. Don’t give them anything to use against you! Play smart!
6. Do not give up! Your children are worth it. One day they will read and learn about their parent’s adventure in the family court, so think about what you are saying and doing. I had almost 90 allegations aimed at me in court. Horrendous gut wrenching stuff. As soon as I read it I felt betrayed at the lies but I then thought about what my children would think of this when they are older. I took the high road. It is a long road, I am still on it, I do it for my children.