While many West Palm Beach divorces involving children that we handle are resolved amicably with a marital settlement agreement, there are those occasional cases where the parties bitterly litigate during the divorce, and even after a final judgment has been entered. While sometimes it is both parents that incite ongoing conflict, there are a fair number of situations where one parent is reasonable and simply wants a resolution, but the other parent seems to thrive on turmoil and conflict. In these nightmare ex-spouse scenarios, the unreasonable parent may fight over every imaginable potential parenting plan issue, including discipline, school pictures, kids’ hairstyles, extracurricular activities and every potential issue that requires any degree of cooperation or coordination between the parents.
If you are dealing with a parent that is this unreasonable, it can be tempting to “fight fire with fire.” At the Law Offices of James S. Cunha, P.A. our experience is that the exact opposite approach is more likely to result in a positive outcome and create less stress for you and your children. The degree to which a parent is willing to cooperate and promote a positive relationship with the other parent is an important part of the “best interest of the child” standard under Florida law. See section 61.13(3), Florida Statutes. When a parent goes out of their way to be inflexible and uncooperative in negotiating a parenting plan or complying with a parenting plan in place, experienced West Palm Beach family law attorney James Cunha and his legal team understand how to expose such uncooperative conduct.
In some cases, a party may request that either a guardian ad litem be appointed to represent the kids in a divorce or a custody evaluation be conducted. These experts will interview the kids and both parties with an attentive eye toward either parent being unreasonable and discouraging the kids’ relationship with the other parent. If you act amicably, positive, and cooperative, you make the contrast between you and the nightmare parent more vivid. This will often result in recommendations for parenting plans favoring the more positive, constructive parent. While it is imperative to document examples of the other parents’ lack of cooperation, equally important is the quality of information that has been documented, and how the information is presented. Depending on the case and circumstances, sometimes one or two minor instances of the other parents’ lack of cooperation may not be sufficient to convince a family court that the other parent is truly uncooperative.
If you understand that you are dealing with this type of difficult party, Mr. Cunha may advise you to communicate in writing so that there is written documentation if a contempt action must be pursued. In fact, it is the preferred form of communication when dealing with a very difficult ex-spouse or parent. Depending on the facts of a particular case, Mr. Cunha will typically send a letter to the other parent-or if that parent is represented by counsel,-his/her attorney regarding that parent’s non-compliance with court orders prior to pursuing a contempt action.
If you are considering retaining an experienced West Palm Beach divorce attorney and have questions, our office may be able to help.