When divorcing spouses cannot reach agreements between themselves or through their lawyers, it is the judge who ultimately makes the final decisions. And the judge’s ruling is not always suited to family life or to the needs of the parents. Therefore, I think it is very important when I litigate divorce cases to take great care in helping my clients keep a cool head. By fostering cooperation between my clients and their spouses and opposing counsel, we have a better chance at making decisions that are optimally suitable to both parents.
In the case I want to discuss, the parents did not successfully arrive at a mutual agreement. As such, the court ruled that the daughter would be in the mother’s primary custody and would receive regular visits from the father. It was also ruled that within six months the mother would have to relocate her residence to be closer to the father’s place of residence.
The mother unilaterally decided not to relocate from where she and her underage daughter were living, to a location closer to the father. She even went so far as to actively disrupt the hours and the days that were set for the father to be together with his daughter.
The father petitioned the court and in her response the wife claimed that her budget did not accommodate relocating her residence. The father decided to add another NIS 600 per month towards the existing support payments to finance the move. But the wife remained in defiance of the court by not relocating. The mother’s lack of compliance in allowing the daughter to visit her father was accompanied by cries and accusations in front of the daughter, of the father being a terrorist. No less than 6 policemen and 2 social workers were called to the scene of the incident, and they tried to convince the mother to allow her daughter to be with her father. Approximately four hours later, the daughter was transferred to the father.
The father immediately petitioned the court that the daughter should remain with him and that her meetings with the mother should take place only at the contact center under the supervision of the social worker. This was for fear that the mother would again refuse to comply with the orders of the court.
The judge ruled that in light of the mother’s attempts to influence the daughter against her father and her continued refusal to relocate to be closer to the father that the mother would only be allowed to meet her daughter in the contact center under supervision.
On the one hand, it is sad that the parents generated a situation that has such a detrimental emotional impact upon their daughter. On the other hand, I am gratified to see the courts reacting so firmly when one parent unilaterally does not implement the court ruling and entangles the children in their conflicts.