One of the few important issues that I seldom see discussed on this board is the experience of dealing with family, friends, and other people that may be important in our cases (but don't necessarily work for the court). This could include all sorts of people like neighbors, extended family, our children's friends parents, to coaches, mental health professionals, etc..
I think this subject is important. Over time I've come to believe that the family court system is actually a reflection of pervasive social attitudes and belief systems held by the majority of modern present day society. You see, it's very easy to develop an intense dislike and even disgust for judges, GALs, attorneys, etc that we don't have a personal relationship with and never will. But what happens when we come to face to face with loved ones and friends that also want to hurt our relationships with our children? I don't have all the answers. I just know that I've come to recognize certain patterns in the people that I've come into contact with over the years. I'd like to share some of what I've seen. It should be noted that many, if not most of the people I've come across, are well meaning even if they are misinformed and/or deluded. Some observations:
1. There is a certain type of person that will dig in and fight for you, but only up to a certain point. This 'point' is different depending on the person, but tends toward societal norms, and established protocols. If your ex is withholding your weekend parenting time, you can expect them to go to the mat for you. Oftentimes these people are very outspoken in your defense. Thus, I've made the mistake on more than one occasion of mistakenly taking someone like this for a long term advocate. However, if you push for more time than their personal belief system allows, or you start painting outside the lines of their circumscribed personal protocol (which is really based on societal protocol), these people can turn on you very quickly. Despite what they might say, their actions will show that they think you are the unreasonable one if you expect more than what they believe to be standard.
Only other observation is that they tend to misuse the word reasonable. Example: (Dad)"I won't negotiate any less time than 50/50." (Reply): "I think you should maybe come down to every other weekend and 3 day weekends during holidays, plus school vacation. that would be reasonable (implying that not caving would be unreasonable)" Variation would be "the court would think that is reasonable (couched, but same basic meaning).
2. There is a type that tends to 'get it', but will only fight for you behind the scenes. These people are often smart, they can read between the lines, they are 'ahead of the curve'. Thus they can be very helpful to your case in certain ways, even going so far to stick their neck out for you. They will call in a favor, try to talk sense into your ex, go out of their way to help you by privately reassuring your child how much you love them, they will counsel and commiserate with you, give you their time if they think it will help, etc....Unfortunately its been my experience that this type tends to conclude that publicly helping you will put themselves in harms way. As opposed to type number 1, they will often not be willing to publicly help you at all. Testifying as a witness, signing paperwork, anything of the sort will cause them to run the other way. As such they can also turn on you very quickly the second you ask them to help in some public way. Their hallmark is that they almost always turn aggressive to fend you off as soon as you cross that public/private line. Although these people can be super useful to you, if you are not careful these people can become your enemy quickly. A word to the wise: do not go after someone like this whether they are a loved one, friend, or just someone on the periphery. They are very intelligent, they know how to 'play the game', and they will fight you and go right to the side of your ex if you make them choose.
3. Another type is a well intentioned talker. They can be very agreeable with your position in the abstract. In fact if things go smoothly, they probably do agree with you and would be more than happy to act on your behalf. The catch: they are with you as long as there is no hint of present conflict. Once that conflict comes, you can expect them to make any and every excuse for your ex. If you remove all the rationalizations and justifications, what they essentially believe is that accountability is not for women; it's only for men. Thus if you continue to push for accountability of your ex, eventually they will conclude that [b]you are the unreasonable one and will act accordingly. Like the other types, there is a danger of losing someone like this, but it tends to happen slowly and insidiously as opposed to quickly.
These are a few examples of what I've seen, there is sure to be more.