We are often asked by colleagues and anxious clients things such as: “What is the most important factor in a custody dispute?” or “How can I make sure I keep my children?”.
When the Court has to determine a parenting dispute the overriding considerations are the best interests and the welfare of the child. However, in most cases we find that a parent’s attitude towards the other parent’s relationship with their child is one of the most critical aspects of any Parenting Order determination.
In other words, if a parent has a poor attitude, belief and opinion about the other parent and in particular that parent’s relationship with their child, then this will often be fatal to that parent’s Parenting Order Application.
The Pitfalls of a Negative Attitude
Day in and day out we see in the Federal Magistrates Court and Family Court where Judges and Federal Magistrates become increasingly frustrated at parents who are unable to separate their personal feelings of hatred, hurt and anger towards the other parent from their parenting dispute. Their failure to appreciate the other parent’s positive role in their child’s life means that consciously and/or subconsciously they create a toxic environment for their child. Due to their unwavering attitude of hatred and anger towards that other parent, the child is regularly exposed (directly and/or indirectly) to that parent’s feelings, thoughts and opinions about the other parent. This causes stress and anxiety to the child, who simply wants to be loved by both parents.
Many of our clients often misunderstand and fail to appreciate the high degree of importance this factor plays in the determination of parenting disputes. If a parent is unable to hide or shield their feelings and cannot say anything positive about the other parent, then they seriously jeopardise their chances of success in Court.
How Expert Advice Can Help
As lawyers who specialise in parenting disputes, we are able to provide specific and particular advice to parents in this regard. We are able to provide advice about what they should and shouldn’t say or do and help them learn from other experts (social workers, psychologists and counsellors) the proper parenting methods to employ that maximise their chances of providing a positive environment for their child that the Court will take note of.
A parent who says things in the witness box such as “I do not like my ex-husband but he is a very good Father for our children. He loves them very much and offers them positive things as a Father which I cannot…” is very refreshing to a Judge. They want to hear and understand that people are trying hard to create a positive environment for their children despite their own personal feelings, anger and hurt.
There are many factors that impact upon a Judge’s determination as to what is in a child’s best interests and how much time that child should spend with both parents. However in our experience, the attitude of a parent to the other parent is one of the most important and critical aspects in any parenting dispute.