Practicing family law, in each new case there seems always to be accusations hurled back and forth regarding drug use, infidelity, alcoholism, bad parenting decisions, and on and on…

Sometimes this is just mudslinging. Sometimes it is not. Often times, whether by agreement or court order, parties to a divorce suit, especially when children are involved, have to submit to drug tests, parenting classes, AA sessions, personal therapy, etc. Sometimes spouses use these mechanisms to try and punish you, but sometimes it is because the court and the law focus, more than anything, on the best interests of the child. This necessarily inovles ascertaining what the parents are doing, when, and how it might affect the child. You may truly know you will be a great parent from now on. But now, the court must also know that. Help to educate the court on why you will be a good parent by complying with the requests, fully and without complaining. Not only will this demonstrate that you are no longer engaging in whatever negative habit or behavior you did before, but it will also show the court how willing you are to jump through hoops for your child.

Quoting from Les Miserables, by Victor Hugo:

Yes. You have come from an unhappy place. But listen. There is more rejoicing in Heaven over the tears of one sinner who repents than over the white robes of a hundred who are virtuous. If you leave your place of suffering with hatred in your heart, and anger against men, you will be deserving of our pity; but if you leave with goodwill, in gentleness and peace, you will have risen above any of us.

If you can emerge from the no doubt horrible experiences that have brought about this divorce, as well as the decisions for which you may now have to pay some price, then you can emerge from this arduous process a better person and a better parent. Submit to the tests. Take the classes. Show all who need to be shown that you have learned, grown and changed, and, most importantly, do it with a smile and without hatred. This may also make the difference in whether or not you will continue to be a significant part of your child’s life. A repentant and humble, if even imperfect and human parent is a more desirable caretaker in the eyes of most than a vengeful, finger-pointing spouse who blames and does not forgive.

If you have made some mistake, and the other side is going to be able to demonstrate it, then you (and likely your child) will be better off by facing the fact of that bad decision head on, and preparing to demonstrate to the court and your spouse that you have changed, and that you have grown. This process involves humility, and, it involves making good on something you have probably said a thousand times before but not yet had to make good on – that you would do anything for your child.