I was recently involved in a rather contentious settlement negotiation with my client, his ex-wife and her attorney. The issue involved the proposed elimination of my client’s child support obligation to his ex-wife for their child. While my client’s income increased modestly since the date of the Decree, his ex-wife’s income more than tripled.The parties’ income was now substantially the same. The parties share true joint physical custody, a 50/50 schedule.
During the heated discussion, my client excused himself to gather his thoughts leaving me alone in the room we were sitting with his ex-wife and her attorney. Expecting some derogatory remark from my client’s ex-wife, I was bracing myself for the comment and preparing a strongly worded clever response. As expected, my client’s ex-wife blurted out a comment, but not the tone and content of the comment I expected.
Now you can see why we are no longer married, but he is a wonderful father to our child.
All too often I hear parties use the buzz words “best interest” incorrectly and insincerely. What is truly in the best interest of their children is having two parents who can put their animosity toward each other aside and focus on maintaining an atmosphere of cooperation and respect for each other as parents of their children for the sake of their children.
There are cases when this is not possible. For example, when there is abuse and/or neglect of a child, or when a mental health issue exists with a party that interferes with their ability to parent. In such cases a congenial relationship may not be possible. However, these cases are in the minority.
My client and his ex-wife masterfully accomplished the goal of joint parenting their child. We were eventually able to settle the case during that negotiation session. The parties left exchanging information about their child’s activities and their upcoming holiday custody schedule in a friendly and respectful way. An example worth following……