Understanding the Trauma and Permanent Damage Bad-Mouthing can cause in a Divorce
In 1993, I had a case where the mother, who had chosen to have a career that forced her to commute every day, thought that because she was the mother of the child, she basically had divine right to move the child away from the town where the father lived. The father had chosen to stay in a local (and lower paying job) so that he could feed, dress and drop the child off at school each morning, then pick the child up at the end of the school day, make him supper, and get him ready for bed by the time the mother got home.
At that time, it was much less acceptable for a father to ask for primary custody, but after much soul-searching the father (my client) felt that he had no choice. When I was looking for resources to support this theory that a father can be just as important to a child’s life as a mom (and just before I decided I was the ONLY one out there with this thought), I discovered a newly published book by Dr. Richard Warshak, called, “The Custody Revolution: The Father Factor and the Motherhood Mystique.”
In that book, Dr. Warshak, for one of the first times, talked about how different children do well in different situations, like for some kids it would be more important to have lots of time with each parent, so those kids might do better with Monday/Tuesday with one parent, Wednesday/Thursday with the other and then flip-flop the weekends between the parents, or one child that needed a more extended period of time with each parent might thrive in the one week with one parent/the next week with the other arrangement. Then he said there are children who cannot cope with that much moving around so they do better with less switching. Even more interesting, Dr. Warshak said sometimes, for some families and children, it is good for a parent to have one child at a time part of the time so that each child in the family feels that they have one-on-one time with each of their parents.
There is no “one-way” that families should schedule their parenting time
Basically, what Dr. Warshak contended is that there is no “one-way” that families should schedule their parenting time but rather parents, sometimes with input from their children, lawyers and parenting experts should work together to reach the best arrangement for the children of divorce.
In my case, with the help and support of that book and consultations with Dr. Warshak, my client asked for joint custody and that the Court order that child’s home remain in the local jurisdiction so that both parents could be active participants in the child’s daily life. When the mother was cross-examined about her opinion on this, as to whether she would rather not have joint if she were forced to work as a co-parent with the father, she stunned the jury (and everyone else in the courtroom) when she could never work with the father. In a surprise verdict, the jury gave my client not only his request that the child’s home stay in the same town where he had been living but the jury also named my client Sole Custodian of the child, way beyond what we were even asking for.
I credit Dr. Warshak’s book, which we referenced in the trial through our expert witnesses, as giving the members of our jury sound reasoning for making the decision they did – moving the issue of co-parenting forward by stating that if parents are not willing to work together the risks are great. In and around that time, the Texas legislature also changed the presumption from one parent being named Sole Managing Conservator to Joint Custody being in the best interest of the children. I believe that Dr. Warshak’s book was ground-breaking in that change in the law. That remains Texas law today and has become a common theory across most states in the United States.
Now, for a limited period of time, Dr. Warshak’s book, “Divorce Poison,” is being offered by Amazon at a reduced price of $5.99 in soft back and only $1.99 on Kindle, so that clients without great resources can afford it and so professionals in the business of families can purchase this and give them to their clients at a lower cost. In this book, Dr. Warshak helps us understand the trauma and permanent damage bad-mouthing the other parent of a child can do to the child. I have appreciated and admired Dr. Warshak for his commitment to children and families for over 25 years, and now I am pleased to recommend his information to everyone at the most affordable price I have seen.
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