6 Dos and Don’ts for Entering Litigation!
If you are a part of a blended family, there may come a time when you are forced to enter litigation. You might be the one receiving papers unexpectedly as we did. Or you may be the one pursuing litigation because of your co-parenting concerns.
Either way, a court battle with your ex can wreak havoc on your emotions, marriage, finances, and family life—not to mention your sanity! We know because we’ve been there ourselves and because we’ve talked with countless other couples who’ve endured the heartache of litigation as well.
While we can’t prevent the pain you’ll feel or the burden you’ll carry, we want you to walk through this season with wisdom and peace. We learned a lot from our own experience and the couples we interviewed for The Blended Kingdom Families Project, and we want to share with you what we’ve learned.
Here are six dos and don’ts for entering litigation:
- Don’t rush. When we received papers from Vanessa’s ex demanding litigation, we had a typical response. We immediately jumped into action—finding a lawyer, gathering documentation, and running at maximum speed to win at all costs. Looking back, we wish we had started with stillness. If we could do it over, we would pray more. We would ask God for guidance and ask Him to prepare and protect our hearts. Because we didn’t stop to surrender ourselves and our plans, we hit a painful breaking point one month into the process, and we realized our deep need for God’s help. We knew we couldn’t possibly walk through this season in our own strength, but we wish we would have pressed pause sooner than we did.
- DO act as a team. It can be easy to see a lawsuit as the problem of the spouse with the ex. But the truth is, in a blended family, litigation will involve everyone in the family. And the entire family needs to support each other. If your husband or wife faces a legal battle with an ex, be present and available for them. Be a prayer warrior, ask questions and listen, discuss options, and collaborate. Be a team. This will help strengthen your marriage even during a difficult season like litigation.
- Don’t misuse social media. Repeat after us: Anything you post on social media can and will be used against you in court. Anything. So avoid posting, commenting, or even liking topics that could cause issues later on. You might even consider taking a break from social media altogether. That way, you avoid any unforeseen problems popping up. Unfortunately, conversations with co-workers, friends, and acquaintances could end up as evidence in a courtroom, too, so be wise in what you say to them.
- DO surround yourself with support. While it’s wise to watch what you say to others about the case , you’ll still need friends and family you can rely on for emotional support. Make a short list of people you can call on for prayer and wise counsel, trusted child care, or that much-needed night out with safe people. Litigation can take months (if not more than a year) and you’ll benefit from time with loved ones when you need it most.
- DON’T overshare with your child. Your son or daughter will likely know there is a legal dispute between you and your ex. But do they need to know specifics? The answer is most likely no. Refrain from sharing details of the case. And never, ever vent your frustrations—either directly to your child or within earshot of them. Kids typically love both parents and want to please both parents. It’s unfair to make them feel as though they need to choose sides.
- DO parent with confidence. When you’re in a custody battle with an ex-spouse, it can feel as though your parenting is under the microscope. Vanessa certainly felt this way, and it made her worry she might lose her son. She felt like she had to walk on eggshells around him to avoid scrutiny. In time, she eventually realized this was a lie from the devil. God Himself called and equipped Vanessa to be a parent—and He has also called and equipped you to parent your child. You can walk in confidence as a parent—even in a custody dispute.
You can learn from our journey and the journey of hundreds of other blended families by following these dos and don’ts. We’ll be praying for you along the way.
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Scott and Vanessa Martindale
Founders of Blended Kingdom Families