Love Triangles: custody and visitation in SC
By M. J. Goodwin
Country music artist RaeLynn’s song “Love Triangle” really hit a chord with me. In addition to representing parents in Family Court, I do a lot of Guardian ad Litem work and see the damage that divorce and contested cases cause for children. The best thing that any parent in this situation can do is make peace with the other parent. Don’t be the Mama and Daddy that let their heart strings tear and tangle. Maybe you cannot be together, but you do not have to be enemies, either. Remember that you have one (or more) very important things in common: living, breathing children who are human beings with hearts and souls. The children love both of you.
If you are reading this, it’s likely that you have not “taken forever to heart” and are not involved in a relationship that can be described as taking “a long sweet ride.” It is likely that you are in a situation of a Mama and Daddy who “don’t even talk no more.” In that situation, making and keeping peace is easier said than done. Emotions are running high. So what do you do?
- First, get experienced, competent legal representation. You cannot have peace of mind if you do not have a good idea of what you can expect to happen in Court. If you have a good understanding of how the system works, you can know how your particular circumstances will affect custody and visitation. Even parents with terrible problems, such as drug use and criminal activity, get some supervised contact with their children in most situations. Active, fit parents both get a great deal of time with and involvement in the lives of their children. Your lawyer should be able to give you an idea of what he or she thinks the outcome of your case will be, based on the lawyer’s experience. If your lawyer does not have enough experience to answer that question, get a second opinion.
- Another possible way to attain and keep peace are to engage a counselor’s services for co-parenting therapy. Yes, therapy is expensive. But if both parents participate, it works. And it is worth every penny. How much would you pay to give your child peace? Both parents are going through a bad time. Cut each other some slack.
- Use of family software to keep up with calendars, schedules and activities can all be helpful, reduce texts and phone calls between parents, and increase peace.
- Minimize third party involvement in your parenting. You and the other parent are the only ones who should be disciplining your child. You and the other parent are the only ones who should be involved in parenting decisions. Keep grandparents and step-parents and significant others out of this.
- Never, ever, under any circumstances, should you bad mouth the other parent. Nor should you let anyone else bad mouth the other parent. There is just no excuse for this. Don’t complain to the children about the child support, either. That is just wrong.
- Be involved at school, even if you don’t have custody. The South Carolina Parental Equality Act guarantees you access to the school records and personnel. Don’t just sit and wait for the other parent to tell you what is going on. Find out yourself.
If parents can put their torn, tangled heart strings aside, their children always benefit from the resulting peace. The children love both of you. Don’t make them get stuck, and grow up, in a love triangle.
RaeLynn’s song is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7FUVdTEQxu8