When involved in a high conflict child custody battle, you’re all too aware of how significant and overwhelming the smear campaign against you, the targeted parent, can be. It’s tough enough figuring out how you will manage the public trashing of your character, but when there is a custody evaluation forthcoming, it becomes much more critical.
When you find yourself under a constant assault of emails, texts, phone calls (voice mails), and pressure from family (theirs and sometimes even yours) as a result of the high conflict parent’s smear campaign – realize that you can turn this into a potentially positive situation for yourself. Be mindful of the fact that your ultimate goal is maximizing your time via child custody when the divorce has occurred. For the most part, the rest of the outside “static” can take a back seat to smart preparation and organization on your part.
It’s part of the entire documentation campaign and it starts with making good and sure that your primary means of communication with your high-conflict ex is via documented methods. These would include emails, faxes, texts where you are exceedingly polite and respectful. The high-conflict ex is unlikely to be the same in return. Live chats (phone calls or other undocumented means) should be kept to an absolute minimum – ideally – eliminated except to allow for the high-conflict parent to leave voice mails. There is no expectation of privacy when voice mails are left and therefore, hostile-aggressive evidence can be used in your favor when you’re trying to demonstrate for the child custody evaluation just who it is that is causing all of the problems. Use their smear campaign efforts against them and turn them in your favor. When you find yourself being incessantly harassed non-stop by the aggressive ex, plan and execute your own efforts to take your life back and, quite possibly rescue your children from living in such a hostile environment, too. Document every time the other parent contacts you, how, and what they ended up telling you. This is another example of where keeping a daily child custody & divorce journal is very helpful.
At the same time, avoid the natural desire to vigorously defend yourself against every false allegation to your antagonist. Aside from playing directly into their hands and risking a slip-up on your part – it distracts you from doing what’s more important, which is working your case. A high-conflict ex is often the biggest provider of information that can be used against them, so learn to start treating them as the “font of evidence” that they are likely to become. Better still, if after calmly and kindly asking them to cease-and-desist on their harassment campaign – if the same accusations or threats continue to come, you may have the evidence you need to obtain a restraining order against them.
If you’re fortunate enough to obtain a restraining order or a “no-contact” order, they are restrained from bothering you in such a way again by law. Every time they do – it violates the no-contact order. Therefore, every call, email, or text is a violation of the order and you can take action. That means that someone who likes their conversation in text will violate . A restraining order is more significant and enforceable with assistance from the police. They can and should be arrested. The only exception to this rule is that restraining orders cannot interfere with child custody requirements (unless the children are part of the restraining order). Exceptions for child custody exchanges will be specified in the order.
Once there is a restraining order or no-contact in place, you’re ability to deal well with a custody evaluation is decidedly easier. You’re better positioned to maintain your own self-control and not be prone to the outbursts that often come with constantly having to defend yourself against false accusations. Unfortunately, vigorously defending yourself, no matter how right you are, is often viewed as you being the hostile and uncooperative one. The discussions can no shift to the high conflict parent’s lack of self control and resulting restraining order against them. Still, be prepared for a custody evaluation to view the RO as “child custody gamesmanship” – especially if you’re a father who has taken out a restraining order against the mother for her poor behavior during these proceedings. It happens, but then that’s where the evidence you compiled in advance of the restraining order supports your contention that it has absolutely nothing to do with gaining an upper hand for child custody and everything do with the ex’s high conflict, aggressive behaviors towards you.
Now, you have a strategy to deal with their belligerent behavior. Many will tell you that if you give the high conflict ex-partner enough rope, they will hang themselves. Deal with false allegations appropriately and don’t let them be the thing that causes you to lose control under mounting pressure and do something you will regret.
Do you have any advice for the external public smear campaign that goes on also i.e. to once friends, family, school.
It makes it very difficult for the kids etc to have a normal life at our house as there is firstly a boycote from other families and we also think that the kids are worried about bring friends over here just in case they talk about us back at the other house in a positive manner.