The day of the custody trial arrived.  Nervous and feigning politeness to the opposing lawyers, they sat parallel to each other at their respective counsel’s tables.  Plaintiff and Defendant. Also known by two, 5 and 7 year old children, as Mom and Dad.

Evidence Round #1:  She testified that the children were adjusting fairly well since they had separated households.  She said that their dad had become more involved in the last year and that was a good thing.  She focused her testimony on her children rather than their rocky past.

Evidence Round #2:  He testified about his increased involvement in his children’s lives.  He had never been more attentive and engaged.  He loved his children deeply and this was evident to everyone in the courtroom.

But his testimony was also full of complaints and “mud-slinging” toward her.  She didn’t include him in the scheduling of spring parent/teacher conference.  She had once spit in his face.  His stories about her were riddled with negativity and contempt.

Evidence Round #3:  In response to his testimony she was compelled to explain.  She didn’t include him the scheduling of parent/teacher conferences because she assumed they would do separate appointments.  In the fall, he came to the conferences noticeably smelling of alcohol.  This made her feel embarrassed and uncomfortable in front of the teachers. It also renewed concerns that he may be drinking when the children were in his care.

She continued to confront his allegations.  She sadly explained why she had spit in his face.  He had controlling tendencies during their marriage.  She was often screamed at and belittled.  One this occasion, he had pinned her in the bathroom.  She couldn’t leave as he blocked her way out.  In tears and distress, she spit in his face so that she could get out.

She continued to report to the court that he had made great strides since their separation.  But her concern was just this.  That he was still filled with anger and hostility toward her.  That he had not attained a level of consistency in their relationship.  She worried about this imbalance impacting their children.  She testified that she desperately wanted him to be the parent he testified he was working to be.

The judge when issuing the ruling said “I see that you could have come to court with the intention of telling me a lot of negative stories, but you opted not to.  You are the parent who is trying to move forward and that is in the best interests of your children.”  The final result when we received the written Decree from the court was that our sole legal and physical custody had been awarded to our client – the parent who had taken the high road.

Angela Dunne

CategoryDoing Divorce
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