Family breakups are not all the same. Most parents are able to regain some sanity and normalcy within about 3-6 months of the parental separation. These are parents who decide they do not want strangers (attorneys and judges) making agreements and decisions about their children. These are parents who are able to place the needs of the children as a high priority and recognize the need for collaboration with their coparent.
Some parents just can't seem to find a sense of sanity and normalcy even 1 year or more after the parental separation. They battle, blame, denigrate, manipulate, destroy, diminish others, and seem to thrive on the infliction of pain and stress and indignities on their coparent. These are parents who find meaning in the battle and the need to win at all costs. Unfortunately, winning means proving they are the superior parent, the moral authority, the best, the most, and the greatest. There is no defense that the targeted parent can mount that will stop the battle. And the children have little or no protection from the battle.
Most people don't know that Family Court can be a crap shoot. The rules are different there from the court rooms and judges we see in criminal dramas where difficult cases are resolved in an hour, two at the most. Instead, it may take years just to get a divorce. It's not uncommon for the divorce to take 2-3 years and 7-8 years is far more common than it should be.
Parents who end up in Family Court are shocked to discover that they can lose contact with their children for 3 months to 1 year based on allegations made by the other parent with no apparent evidence. That is because Family Court rules are "preponderance" not "beyond the shadow of a doubt." A 5 day trial can take up to a year to complete because there are not enough resources allotted to Family Court to conduct a trial on consecutive days so there is a day here, a day there, and so on.
The challenges of Family Court leave many parents involved in High Conflict family breakups isolated and unsupported because friends and family members get burned out because the stress and uproar just doesn't seem to end. Or, friends and family members begin to suspect that "where there is smoke there is fire" and turn on the parent or just pull away because they just cannot imagine that a parent could be diminished in their parental role when there is no real basis for it.
The Support Groups in the Transitions Family Program at Hannah's House hear these stories every week. Some of our parents have been in the groups since they began in 2013. Parents involved in High Conflict family breakups need long term support. If you are one of those parents or have a friend or family member who is facing these challenges, tell them about the help that is available.
Our Dads Group meets every Wednesday night from 6-7 pm. Moms Group is every Friday night from 530-7 pm. We also have an Arts and Animals Children's Group that meets every Friday night from 530-7 pm.