Why your attitude in court is so damn important


Why is it so difficult to adopt a sovereign attitude in front of the court – you shouldn’t have to fear anything, because you haven’t done anything wrong?

Let me tell you a typical story that illustrates the classic procedure after a separation from a toxic father.

Let’s assume you have just separated and your toxic Ex has been giving you hell for the past weeks and months – and again, let’s assume you stood firm and didn’t allow what he so vehemently demanded because you knew the children needed to settle down first.

In fact, the child’s father desperately wants the children to spend more time with him.

Now it’s in your mailbox: the letter from the family court with the invitation to the first hearing to reach an agreement on contact with the joint children.

This request comes as a great surprise to you – when you were still together, you had not been able to perceive so much genuine interest in the children. Quite the opposite – as soon as the first hype after the birth was over, he stayed longer in the office than before. 

Well, as a department head in a large company, you can’t take it easy, that much is clear. You understood that. Also that the company has no understanding for family time, which your Ex was often loud about at your home.

You were home alone with the kids for 80, heck 90% of the time and had to take care of them. Not infrequently even on weekends, because he always had to go somewhere where it was not suitable for children. 

He also has so many interests! She didn’t seriously want him to give up his many and fun hobbies, because otherwise he would go to pieces, and no woman would want a sad drip, would she?

Well, at least he was promoted to the position of a division manager last year due to his professional presence, combined with a decent salary increase. 

You don’t know how much that is – he handles the finances, you have separate accounts, and he transfers your household money to you every month, 1000 euros. This has not changed even after the salary increase. Since you are a thrifty wife, you have usually managed well with it.

You yourself started working again right after the first baby year after each child, but you don’t have time for your former hobbies anymore. You often don’t know how other mothers manage with a 40-hour job – you are really at the edge of your capacities with your 25 hours. 

Due to tax class 5 – logo – you only had a fraction of your former salary in your account. From that you still participated in the loan for the house and bought your clothes, you could not even think of your own reserves.

But that’s the way it is – he really wanted the classic family, it would have been impossible for you to question that after some time, so that you could concentrate on your career again.

You had actually hoped that he would give special importance to the family after the birth, at least you still had the impression at the beginning that he saw it exactly that way when you had talked about starting a family.

At some point you had to realize that this would never change. Of course, you often told him that this was not how you imagined family life. Each time he started a fight, so that you finally gave up for the sake of peace. 

His moods got worse and worse over the months. He became more and more verbally aggressive and started to ridicule you in front of others or to criticize you.

You became more and more a shadow of yourself. At some point you realized that living with him would have been hell for you in the long run. His subliminally aggressive presence alone was like a black blanket over your everyday life.

Finally, you summoned up all your courage and moved out with the two children.

Of course you never wanted to be a single parent! But you had hoped that the Ex would take care of the children, now 3 and 5 years old, on his contact days.

As a precaution, you had waived your own separation maintenance – you wanted to carry out the separation as amicably as possible. You only need the maintenance for the children, because renting a 3-room apartment alone exceeds the financial framework that you have available with your 25-hour part-time contract.

Since he had hardly any time on weekends before, you assume a maximum of a bi-weekly contact rhythm – that alone would be an increase of his daddy-children time by at least 200%!

But even if he had said on his own that he could only spend one weekend a month with the kids, you wouldn’t have been surprised. Better than nothing, you would have thought to yourself then.

But fiddlesticks!

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​Let’s continue this scenario of what could happen if you have not worked on your inner attitude in court:

Let’s say you’re now sitting in the courtroom for the first hearing and you have to listen to the ex say that he’s suffering a lot because he doesn’t see his kids every day anymore.

You have to hear that you are a mother hen who has done everything in the past to keep him from babysitting.

You also hear that you’ve talked the kids into only being able to see dad every two weeks.

He also sheds a few tears because the relationship with you had been hell for him. He was never good enough for you, you constantly found fault with him and his fatherly qualities.  In your eyes, he couldn’t even change diapers properly, and you would have insisted on always putting the kids to bed yourself.

He is desperate to make up for the missing time. He would therefore be willing to reduce his working hours to 50% so that the children could live with him half the time. In their familiar surroundings, in their old nurseries. And close to their beloved grandma.

He therefore applied for the alternating residency model.

Then you would also have the opportunity to advance your own career and would not have to concentrate so exclusively on the children. 

The fact that you had to fix the number of hours in the meantime and no longer have the right to increase them because your employer has hired someone additional in the meantime, he elegantly lets fall under the table.

At first, you don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

In any case, you are stunned.

You look at the faces of the judge and the counselors, their critical glances, their deep understanding of the father’s distress. Already you jump to your feet, your voice trembles, becomes high and shrill with excitement. Your sentences are running over each other as you justify yourself – the children are still so small! – and he always said before the separation… 

You get confused, lose the thread. You are completely lost, you can’t think clearly anymore.

Everything you say underlines the common cliché of the mother hen and the woman who sees her financial sinecure melting away. Because it’s clear – with the alternating residency model you don’t get child support either. 

You notice that the judge is annoyed and hates emotional outbursts in his courtroom like the plague. At some point you also cry from bewilderment and anger and helplessness.

Your lawyer says something, but you find the arguments much too weak and become more and more desperate. You feel the ground beneath your feet is opening up.

The judge finally decides that the alternating residency model should first be set up on a trial basis. See you again in 6 months. Goodbye, have a nice week.

Do you want to feel confident about managing child hand-offs with your toxic ex?


​Your right attitude in court

What every mother who has a toxic Ex partner absolutely needs in court is a clear attitude, self-confidence and the highest possible objectivity (please do not confuse objectivity with coldness!).

That such a spectacle brings us to the brink of composure is probably more than understandable. After all, it is about a child and not about a stolen car!

But please realize that you are doing a disservice to your child if you go into the trial with the inner attitude of a victim – by doing so, you weaken yourself and your powers of persuasion enormously.

It is better if you go into the room with the inner attitude that you know – and feel – exactly what your child needs now. And you now have the most important task, namely to represent his or her interests.

The clearer you speak, the more convincing your arguments – because they are well prepared and well thought out – and the more at peace you are with yourself, the more authentic you will appear.

Do not focus on the child’s father and his little spirits!


By the way, the exemplary scenario described above is not uncommon.

Such a negotiation or a similar one is first of all the prelude. I know mothers who are overdrawn with legal proceedings by their toxic Ex-partner over several years. Such couples are then called “high-conflict”.

The first person who thinks “It takes two to argue!” can put 10 euros in the naivete box.

With a toxic, probably narcissistically disturbed Ex-partner one can be involved in arguments for many years, even if one were the reincarnation of Mother Theresa. In this situation, she would not stand a chance in family court either, I am convinced of that.

But if these are now the corner conditions, then you can face it and proceed smartly: with heart, courage and good planning you go into the preparation. And above all, with a really good lawyer at your side, who specializes in exactly such cases, in order to secure your legal options.

You can’t influence all the factors – but you can influence the most important ones: your attitude and your dignity.

It works – it really does.

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