Child custody and time-sharing is frequently contested. There is nothing necessarily wrong with a parent wanting more time with the children than the other parent is willing to agree to. Contested child custody often reflects honest differences of opinion over what is fair to the parties. There may be sincere disputes as well over what is in the best interests of the children. So long as everyone is acting in good faith, these disputes can often make be worked out.
High conflict custody cases are a different thing altogether. High conflict child custody disputes on occasion may occur even when both parties sincerely believe in their positions. However, more often than not, high conflict custody is the result of misbehavior on the part of one or both parties.
High conflict custody disputes come in countless varieties. There are a few things that each and every high conflict child custody case has in common. Number 1, they are almost always avoidable. I will begin again since most involved in this situation will gloss over Number 1.
So lets begin again. First, high conflict custody cases involve extraordinarily high attorney fees and costs. I mention this first because this may be enough to stop some from taking this approach.
Second, they are very time-consuming on the parties requiring countless court appearances, counseling sessions, meetings with experts, psychological exams, parenting classes and so on. Hopefully, if financial burdens are not enough to deter this conduct, inconvenience is.
Third, they come with the extremely invasive presence of the courts, experts, lawyers, guardian ad litems (GALs), on occasion law enforcement and others who scrutinize every detail of the parent, the children, the home, relationships (of the parents and the children), employment, social activities and on and on. This is not an exaggeration. Parolees will generally have greater privacy than parents in this situation.
If these are not enough, along with high conflict custody disputes come some very unpleasant by-products. These include charges of criminal domestic violence, petitions for orders of protection from domestic abuse, custodial interference, parental alienation, parental kidnapping, false allegations of abuse, charges of contempt, a variety of criminal charges and much much more. In short, it is beyond comprehension why any parent would willingly engage in behavior that would unnecessarily leads to high conflict child custody actions.
Oh yes, then there is the severe and irreparable harm that these cases cause the children. This should be mentioned first. Sadly, however, when cases get to this point, it is frequently the least of the parties’ concerns. It is the chief concern by law of the courts, judges, and aforesaid professionals and experts. The courts and each every one of the professionals who support the courts in custody evaluations have as their principal objective the best interests of the children. And this is the ultimate and most difficult question to answer in these cases.