Co-Parenting with a Litigious Ex

Question:  Ever since my ex husband got married (a year ago), he has started bringing every little item into court for litigation. In the past year alone, we have had about five court litigated issues. His lawyer represents him on a “limited scope” which means he accepts and drafts correspondence, but does not appear in court. So far I have been defending myself, but for the most recent one, I hired an attorney. In the past, if he lost the litigation, there were no ramifications since I did not have legal fees to claim.
I have suggested family therapy to no avail. In fact it seems most anything I suggest is met with hostility. For example, he recently refused to send my daughter’s cheer uniform with her during my weekend.

We are about to have a limited custody evaluation by a psychologist. Can she help? What else can I do? Any suggestions for retaining my sanity?


Are child custody evaluations helpful?
Most parents figure out custody and co-parenting out on their own. Unfortunately, there are situations where one party is extremely difficult or there are extraordinary issues that prohibit the cooperative process. In these regrettable situations, a third party (often a psychologist) is the only solution to help the divorcing or co-parenting parents come to an agreement. The prevailing custody standard is in the best interest of the child.”

What does, “in the best interest of a child” mean? & who has the power to decide “the best interest of the child”? If parents leave this up to courts, a judge that does not know the child or family, may be the one to ultimately decide the child’s fate.
Someone that does not know the child or parents? Hmmm….Does this sound likes “the best interest of the child”? I think not.
I do know several psychologists that are custody evaluators in Phoenix area that are very good. I have also heard nightmare stories. Many experts believe the instruments used in custody evaluations are invalid and not based on scientific grounds. Instead, they believe these outcomes are based on the evaluator’s theories and personal beliefs. Obviously, it is best when parents come to parenting agreements on own. When parents decide their arrangements on their own there is more “buy in” and commitment.  In my opinion, custody evaluations are not ideal.


You may want to check out Our Family Wizard , an online co-parenting site that offers support for all parties during divorce and after. They also have a page and resources for high-conflict parenting situations. The court may assign a specific co-parenting program for you, however, this is one example of court approved support.

For your peace of mind:
This is a difficult situation for you, especially if you want to co-parent, move on and help your daughter. You can help yourself and your daughter by taking care of yourself during these times.

• Find a physical outlet. Join a local yoga studio for physical and mental peace. Or walk each day with a friend.

• Spend time with people you can be your authentic-self around. Laugh and play as much as possible.

• Play with your daughter for 30 minutes a day uninterrupted by phones or other outside noise. Go for a walk, make a recipe or do an activity you enjoy together.

You may also want to get more support from a professional in your area.

Thank you for sharing your personal experience and please let me know if I answered your questions or you want more information.

Written by: Brigitte Wangberg, M.S., MFT

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