When you are getting a divorce, you may have your divorce lawyer on speed dial. Things happen, and you need to make sure that your legal interests are protected in the divorce proceedings. As you strive to get the custody agreement you want, your custody lawyer can provide advice on what you should and should not do as far as the courts are concerned. If you notice that your children have found that they may be able to play you and your future ex against each other during the process of a divorce, you need to stop that behavior as quickly as possible.
Try to Work with Your Soon-to-Be Ex to Fix the Situation
No matter how amicable your divorce may be, the idea of partnering with your spouse during a separation or divorce probably feels icky. However, you need to be allies in this situation. It's important to present a united parenting front to your children who are likely in a lot of pain from the divorce. Their destructive behavior of trying to instigate trouble is probably due to hurt feelings, so it's important to be sympathetic while also having a no-tolerance policy for this bad behavior.
Call Out Your Children for Doing the Wrong Thing
Call a spade a spade. If you witness your children misbehaving or being willfully manipulative, describe exactly what you notice. The kids may be embarrassed or even impressed that you are on to them. When you call out this misbehavior, be sure to explain how it makes you feel, too. Your children may have been so involved in their hurt feelings that they haven't considered the consequences of their actions, and they may be motivated to stop by the fact that they hurt you.
Set Clear Consequences That Are Enforced for All Kids
Make sure that your children know that you are not going to be used to hurt your ex. Even if a part of you applauds their initiative against your ex, you cannot give into it. Talk to your ex to agree with what the consequences will be for that behavior, and agree to enforce them at both homes no matter where your children are saying. For example, if your children misbehave while they are staying with you, the grounding carries over to when they stay with your ex, too.
Finally, keep in mind that this is going to be tough territory for you and your ex. You may both have your own child custody lawyer, but you have to come together in matters such as these. With all the pain that your children may already be in, you probably don't want to add to it by disciplining them. However, it's important for their well-being as well as your own self-care that you not allow your children to play you against your ex during a divorce. Work together as a family to figure out a better way for everyone to get their needs met.