Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A fully integrated analysis of child custodian behavioural risks when pursuing child custody modification

26 November 2013

When engaged in parenting children amongst separate households the likelihood of conflict over parenting styles is likely to be exacerbated. It very well may have been the trigger for a divorce and the ensuing high conflict parenting relationship. It is this conflict that leads to hyper vigilance towards perception of any adverse parenting decisions and subsequent litigation.

Often though this litigation, while it may have had legitimate underpinnings, does not produce fruitful results. This can be the results of a chaotic, piecemeal approach to the presentation of the adverse parenting techniques. This is the topic I am addressing here.

The actions of a parent seen in isolation may appear typical of parents or even in the extreme still innocuous. But when the interplay of various behaviours and their impact on the children is adequately coordinated and presented to the court a far different outcome may appear.

To understand the importance of this interplay I guide you to Kate Randal, FBI insider threat analyst. She suggests that organizations develop a central review process for assessing the red flags exhibited by members of the organization. These may include security level clearance, electronically accessing or sending sensitive data, sexual proclivities, sudden changes in mood or behaviour, seeking greater responsibility, and an upsurge in higher economic class activities.

None of those in isolation should be cause for concern. An adept and ambitious employee should seek advancement. As one gains a sense of security in his station in life he may reward himself for years of frugality by engaging in more liberal spending habits. A major life event could produce a temporary stress reaction that is out-of-character but still normal under the circumstances. A particular inter-agency project may demand the transmission of a high amount of sensitive data.

These actions may be viewed by a supervisor, a co-worker, a department head, an electronic monitoring algorithm, or health provider. Without cross-communication or a central collection process and repository these individual red flags provide no alert.

An employee who is being treated for depression, who has recently purchased an expensive sports car, has asked for a promotion including a higher security clearance, is soliciting prostitutes and has had an unusual spike in the transmission of pdf attachments or photocopying can be seen as a threat. This collection of unusual activities seen by one person provides a clear signal to investigate further. In isolation each may produce little more than wild speculation.

So in applying this principle to parenting and child custody litigation practitioners must be acutely aware of the interplay between individual behaviours and the overarching goal of the best interest of the child. For instance using physical violence against a child as a disciplinary measure is still widely accepted. As long as it is not producing physical injury to the point of being declared abusive then that complaint will gain no traction. I had heard attorneys dismiss the complaint of this type of corporal punishment as not being an issue to bring to the court's attention. However, when demonstrated as a means to suppress a child's gregarious nature or as a consequence of shyness in the overall scheme of a parent trying to manipulate inborn character traits then the physical violence is clearly emotional abuse. To dismiss this parenting technique before fully exploring its impact upon the child is to err. Possibly an error that results in a child remaining within an abusive household.

A successful child custody modification is dependent upon having a legitimate parenting plan for the petitioner while crafting the deficiencies of the respondent into a perceptible and cohesive foundation for the modification. IC 31-17-2-8 and its companion IC 31-14-4-3 enumerate the factors from which there must be a substantial change in at least one. These should not be seen as individual acts standing alone but, to be effectively litigated, should be organized within the rubric of effective parenting.

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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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