Don’t send your child to your ex looking like Oliver Twist.
Here’s a story that I hear at least five times a year: “My ex-wife dropped the kids off to spend the weekend with me, and they were dressed in tattered jeans and raggedy shirts, and they looked like a pair of poor orphans.” Or, “my carefree ex-husband returned the kids in ripped pants and stained shirts. I wonder if he even has a washing machine at home.”
In fact, it seems that some parents think it’s appealingly spiteful to provide an insufficient supply of underwear and socks to the other parent, or to deliver the kids in their most ill-fitting, frayed clothes – unwashed, unbuttoned, unlaced. “If I call her to rant about how poorly the kids were dressed,” exclaims the ex-husband, “she’ll just go on a tirade about how she can’t afford to buy them any new clothing. It turns into a child support discussion.”
Judges don’t like to read about these things. When they hear about malicious parents who dress-down their children to make a point with their ex-spouse, they tend to think of those parents as either petty or abusive. It doesn’t help anyone’s claim for custody or parenting time.
In fact, dressing your child like the poor orphan waif, Oliver Twist, to make a point with your ex is actually the wrong approach if you’re trying to get a strategic advantage. The better approach is to deliver the kids (or to return them to the other parent) with all of the necessary clothing, in good shape, properly cleaned, pressed, folded and packed. Go the extra mile.
By doing the right thing, you’ll be able to argue in court that your parenting responsibilities extend beyond your household. “I take my responsibility for these children very seriously,” you’ll tell the court. “Even when they’re not staying at my home, I make sure they have all of their clothing, neatly counted and packed, all of their medicines and personal items.”
The judge will see you as a responsible parent, and the kids will remember who took care of them.
Any interesting stories out there? Let me hear from you.