Thursday, April 4, 2013

Doing What's Right When You are Under Attack

At some point if it already hasn't happened you are likely to have your character maligned. This is especially true for those seeking to change any status quo or going through a child custody battle. When it happens you are presented with options that range from an emotional outburst to the over-analytical politically correct response. Somewhere in between is the happy medium most often chosen.

In a response to the posting of my April Fool's day joke on FaceBook, Jennifer West of Dayton, Ohio said -
“Showalter is a jerk...needs to open his eyes and realize not all fathers are a positive influence to their child. What about fathers that are sociopaths and psychopaths and spew their hatred onto their own child and say negative things to their child (which are NOT true) about the child's mother and grandparents? My 3 year old nephew was with his idiot father for 2 weeks (Spring Break-Court Ordered) and when my sister got him back, my nephew has been hateful, disrespectful, telling my sister whatever she says sucks and whatever grandma says sucks, etc. Stuff that never came out of my nephew's mouth before! So Showalter needs to quit fighting for father's rights ONLY...realize every single case is different, but it is the child that is going to suffer and be confused by the irresponsible father's actions, at least in my nephew's is disgusting! ”.[emphasis added]

This over emotional rant immediately disqualifies itself from serious consideration of its content. Instead the focus of the reader of an emotional rant, which for many will be judicial officers, is shifted to the psychological stability of the writer. I have reviewed hundreds, more likely thousands, of text messages and emails from high conflict parenting cases which follow a similar fate – the parents expressing such rants are not viewed as credible nor acting in the best interest of the children. When presented on cross-examination these messages can destroy hours of carefully constructed and practiced testimony that lawyers have designed to elicit the best image of their clients.

Keeping your cool can be a difficult task but it is necessary when responding to an attack. Provocateurs can rear themselves among any aspect of your life. Their motivation sometimes being to get a reaction that can be used against you in some forum. For others maybe you are simply a member of a targeted class for which the writer holds a bias and resentment. Beware of the clandestine provocateur who may be an agent of your litigation adversary trying to elicit a hastily worded emotional response that can be used in court to demonstrate your emotionally unstable character.

I have previously written about how social networking sites are making their way into the courtroom and the risks associated with posting details of your personal life on them. As you think about how to respond next time someone is pushing your buttons it may also be worth your time to review what you are voluntarily posting.

If you are already an emotionally stable parent who is acting in the best interest of your children then your public persona should easily mimic the elements of the behavioural spectrum that satisfy the parental fitness requirements in a child custody proceeding. If you are a typical parent who can say the wrong thing during an emotionally charged moment that, although not reflective of your general behaviour, can be used against you -- the one under the microscope – then it is imperative that you bite your tongue.

So next time you are confronted with an assault on your character it may just be best to reinforce the armour, swallow your pride and remain silent.

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©2008, 2013 Stuart Showalter, LLC. Permission is granted to all non-commercial entities to reproduce this article in it's entirety with credit given.

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