When your co-parent behaves in toxic ways

On behalf of Furr & Cohen, P.A. posted in Child Custody on Sunday, February 23, 2014.

You and your child’s other parent are likely no longer together for a variety of reasons. Unfortunately, some of those reasons may be that your co-parent leads an unhealthy lifestyle, makes destructive choices and/or behaves in toxic ways towards your child or towards you. If this is the case, it can become difficult to interact with your co-parent, difficult to feel comfortable allowing your child to spend time with your co-parent and even difficult to feel safe having any contact with your co-parent at all.

If your co-parent places you and/or your child in immediate physical danger, do not hesitate to contact law enforcement for help. However, if your co-parent’s toxic behavior has not risen to the level of immediate physical danger, then there are a few things that you and an experienced family law attorney can do to help better your situation over time.

For example, it may no longer be in your child’s best interest for you and your co-parent to have shared child custody arrangements. Before you file a petition to change your child custody arrangements with the court, you must document the behaviors that are contributing to a change in circumstance. Any paperwork, eyewitness accounts of the behavior and other evidence that you can present to strengthen your case should be brought to your attorney for consideration.

Also, it is important to get some support right now in addition to an attorney. A therapist, calm and rational loved ones and online communities can help keep you calm when you’re struggling with your co-parent’s toxic behavior. Acting out or retaliating will only paint you in a negative light in the court’s eyes, so finding strength and support is imperative right now.

Source: The Huffington Post, “Divorce Confidential: Coping With an Impossible Spouse During and After Divorce” Caroline Choi, Feb. 13, 2014