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Choosing Your Battles in Family Court: When to Fight and When to Compromise

People often divorce because they no longer compromise and argue frequently. The initial foray into the family court arena is replete with stress, unfettered emotion, and anger which can lead to perpetual conflict. However, carefully picking your battles and learning to respond diplomatically can save your mental health, your money, and, ultimately, your litigation. Not every hill is a hill to die on. Here are some ideas to assist you so you can decipher when to fight back and when to compromise with your ex-spouse.

Save the drama for your mama; do not enter into conflict or create problems unnecessarily.

Keeping your cool is best for you, your children, and even your ex-spouse during the family court process. The more conflict you initiate, the more you will suffer and your case will be damaged. Often times, arguments and conflicts with an ex-spouse are fruitless and we end up wasting emotional energy. If you share children with your ex-spouse then you must keep the conflict to a minimum. Children can sense the acrimony, and it can have devastating effects on them. Be an adult and avoid senseless arguments and disputes.

Fight for your kids, not with your ex-spouse.

Your children will always benefit from having both parents in their life (though there are exceptions when a parent is abusive). The ideal way to "fight" for your children is to demand at least 50/50 joint custody from the outset. Nevada is a presumptive joint custody state, and our family courts believe that shared custody is best for children, absent abuse or neglect. Your children need you in their lives and they need you to fight to guarantee your presence.

Choose your words carefully .

This is essential unless you want to waste thousands of dollars and age ten years during the process. Frequently, people will fire off texts in the heat of anger and regret it later. Set a boundary for yourself so that you only respond after a certain amount of time has transpired. It also helps to have another person read your responses before you send them, to alert you to any red flags, or to possibly temper your language. Never reply to emails or verbal badgering from your ex-spouse while you are angry. Calm down and regain your composure to ensure you do not make a poor decision or engage in further conflict. Messages and emails sent in anger will often end up in embarrassing court filings that will harm your case. Maintain your calm and your sanity; let your ex-spouse be the one to come unhinged and damage their case.

Keep your eye on the big picture.

In the final analysis, your ex-spouse not telling you about a sports practice and being late to an exchange is not worth filing a motion and devoting countless resources. Live to fight another day. It is not always about being right. Pro Se Pros can certainly help you determine when an issue is worth the effort of bringing it before the court.

Follow court orders.

Even if you got screwed, the law is the law and failing to make child support payments or refusing to abide by court orders will certainly cause great difficulty for you and your children. Your judge will not look kindly on the failure to respect court orders.

Document everything.

Insist that everything be documented, even if your ex-spouse is currently cooperating. This will put you in an advantageous position should conflicts arise in the future, and they will. Don’t be afraid to record contentious child exchanges, or any interaction with your ex that you wish to memorialize.

You must be willing to compromise.

You will win some and lose some in the family court process, and while it will be a challenge, you have to be open to compromise and even concede on occasion. Don’t let anger guide your actions or behaviors during this process. Initiating a court preceding out of anger will always end badly for you and your children. As Ben Franklin once wisely said, “ Whatever is begun in anger ends in shame.”

- Sean

Sean Abid is a Contributing Member of Pro Se Pros, LLC. Reach out to Sean at

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