Sometimes we see the whole of humanity in a small, sad corner of our lives. Veronica Youngblood1, the Fairfax County woman accused of murdering her own children, was in the midst of a custody battle following a bitter divorce. Nothing glamorous, valiant, or worthy can come of this sad woman’s future. We sincerely hope no custody battle results in so tragic an outcome, but custody battles produce no winners.
Brewing for a Fight
Humans react emotionally; it is our nature. Law attempts to dilute, defuse and distill that emotion so it plays a small part in rulings. Custody battles are rooted in the strongest emotions possible, the bonds between father and child, mother and child.
Get out of your head any thoughts of “victory,” “winning,” or “beating” anybody legally. Think about the real object of your fight: your beloved children. Do you want them to witness an actual fight, a vicious battle between their parents?
Suppose you do “win.” What do you win? Battered, bruised, churned up children who saw their father work so hard against their mother that she is viewed by Virginia’s courts as not worthy of their care. Is that who you want her to be in their eyes?
Consider an alternative to dragging everybody into court. You can avoid the custody battle, negotiate through your attorneys and find a peaceful, practical way to stay in your children’s lives. And they never have to see or hear the acrimony and anger between you and their mother.
Foot, Meet Mouth
Every word, every gesture directed against your children’s mother is potential evidence. You can put your foot in your mouth one week and be rudely reminded of it through testimony the next week.
An expert at Child Centered Divorce, Rosalind Sedacca, respectfully remind us that a battle for child custody can, all too often, obscure the children at the center. Put the needs of your children first and you can avoid saying or doing the wrong things to their mother. Instead of treating her as an adversary, instead of cursing her name accidentally (or intentionally!) in front of your own children, you view her as a similar soul. She wants what is best for the children, and so do you.
Consider questioning your motives by asking yourself some basics, says Sedacca:
- What’s best for our children today, tomorrow and in the years to come?
- How can we minimize the physical, emotional and spiritual damage inflicted upon our children as a result of our divorce?
- How can we best support our children through this difficult time?
- How can we show your love and compassion for them as they move through challenges they did not ask for — or create?
What’s Your Name?
How well do you know your children? If you view them through the distant mirror many Virginia Dads seem to use, you may have already lost custody without even knowing it.
You cannot win a battle you are have never prepared for, say experts at The Huffington Post. Are you the primary caretaker of your kids? How well do you know them? Do you know their ages, birthdays, favorite foods, and fears? What pants size does your younger child wear? Who is your older child’s best friend?
All those basics are baked into the mother-child relationship, but too often Dads seem to be detached, working hard to provide food, a comfortable home, and clothing for growing families without ever knowing their own kids.
Winning a custody battle without knowing anything about your own children does not make you a victor. It makes you an Uncle Dad or a frustrated father. Suddenly you have the kids, yes, but you have to learn everything about them all at once.
If you thought a house or a houseful of children was expensive, brace yourself for the absolute horror of a protracted, bitter custody battle. You will spend, and spend, and spend and still possibly be months away from a clear verdict. Your ex-wife or the mother of your children may match you dollar for dollar all the way to poverty, too.
Neither of you will have the resources you need, at the end of a custody battle, to provide for your children in a way you would like.
Working Mother magazine tells us that one in four wives make more money than their husbands. In divorce, she may be able to outspend you on investigators, attorneys, and costly delays. She may be able to drag out a custody battle until you are bent, spent, and broke(n). Afterwards, she may be able to provide better for the children than you. And she will advertise that to the Virginia court.
The Firm For Men: Powerful Armies & Great Diplomats
Take a tip from the professionals. By which we mean statesmen. You invest in powerful armies, yes, but you also invest in great diplomats. Avoid battles. Seek kinder, gentler paths to peace.
You want 50/50 custody; she wants sole physical custody.
Consider parenting plans that flex and grow with your children, so you have them, say, 25 percent of the school year and 75 percent of summer vacation. The next year, you have them 75 percent of the school year and only 25 percent of summer vacation. Let your lawyers help you find a better solution than a custody battle, for the sake of your children.
Please contact The Firm For Men by calling our offices at 757-383-9184 or contact us online. We will listen to your concerns about child custody, help you find a strategy that balances your needs and those of your children, and plan a path that avoids a bitter battle. We work tirelessly for Virginia’s men, and the children they love.