top of page
  • Writer's pictureStephen Williams

The Dirtiest Word in Child Custody

When all you do all day every day is help parents and relatives in Child Custody cases, you start to notice some patterns. Some patterns are helpful, some aren’t. One pattern we’ve picked up on is the kind of language our clients use, more specifically, their vocabulary. I bet dollars to doughnuts there is a correlation between certain words and the peace and well-being of our clients. A deep dig into this concept could probably be a book and probably is already, but we’re to talk about the single, dirtiest word in Child Custody and how using it and giving energy to it is in every sense a “lose-lose” proposition. That word is…


That’s right. The second you utter the word “understand” in certain contexts you are cruising for a mental and emotional and utterly ineffective bruising. See, for example,…

…I don’t understand why the Judge would rule that way…

…I don’t understand why the Other Side acts the way they do…

and for a double whammy

…I don’t understand why the Other Side can’t understand me.

Any of this sound familiar?

~ click here to book your Child Custody consultation at

Here are the problems with giving any thought, energy or action to trying to “understand” anything, especially in Child Custody.

First, you’re not going to understand certain things. If the Other Side is controlling and manipulative there are simply too many variables to pinpoint the source of that behavior. Even then, assuming a source assumes some kind of causation to begin with. Some thinkers believe that life is so completely random that causation is a myth unto itself. So, to try to “understand,” for practical purposes, is akin to trying to do the impossible.

Second, even if you “succeed” in some quest for understanding, well, congratulations…now what? Understanding why the Other Side is manipulative doesn’t help deal with that manipulation. This isn’t some tactical chess game we’re trying to win. Get up every day and do what you’re supposed to do. Be where you’re supposed to be. Be who you’re supposed to be. Quit thinking about the Other Side or the Judge or whoever so damn much. Seriously.

(I’ll qualify that, understanding why a Judge may have ruled a certain way might sound helpful. “If I know what the Judge cares about then I can proceed accordingly.” This kind of thinking is shallow and short-sighted. The Judge has their values; you have yours. Be authentic and act in accordance with your values or you’ll not have peace as a person or as a parent. If, for example, you value a healthy, hard-drug free lifestyle and you fail a drug test for meth, it’s less important why the Judge cares than whether or not and why youcare. I guess the point is the only thing you need to have an honest, non-judgmental understanding of is yourself, including your strengths and weaknesses, tendencies and motivations, etc., and take action accordingly. Even then, you won’t understand why you’re that way; you’re just dealing with the facts.)

~ click here to book your Child Custody consultation at

One last thing, and again, even assuming you understand something about the Other Side or some other stakeholder…you’re probably wrong. So much of who we are and the decisions we make are based on emotions and then our brain comes up with the “logic” post facto. It’s the same with the Other Side. If you angrily text the Other Side, “I don’t understand why you would do this…” and then they actually take the time to explain it to you, there’s absolutely no reason to take that at face value. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying the Other Side is lying, I’m saying they’re full of it. You’re getting the best-sounding explanation their brain can come up with at the time.

I’m as guilty here as anyone. Why should you believe what I have to say? Why should you take the information presented here at face value and believe and understand all this? The point is it doesn’t matter; the information here is actionable. It’s practical and helpful in crawling out of someone else’s head and reallocating it towards yourself and things you can control.

We don’t sit around trying to understand why a steak tastes good and other things don’t. We just eat and enjoy.

~ click here to book your Child Custody consultation at ~


This article contains general information and should not be construed as legal advice for you and or your unique situation. If you would like to speak more about how you, as a Committed Parent or Caring Relative, can be more effective in your Child Custody case, please visit to schedule your initial consultation at one of our offices. ~SW, Foxtrot

bottom of page