Copyright (c) 2009 Ron Lasorsa
Child Custody is a highly litigated area of family law that can be both expensive and emotionally draining, even when done correctly. The following represents some pointers designed to help parties avoid the stress, expense and emotional damage often attributed to child custody litigation:
1. Try to come to agreements on your own: Parties who craft their own custody agreements are usually much happier with the outcome because they feel like they have played an active role in the decision and are consequently more apt to comply. In addition, you do not need an attorney to come to your own stipulation which can save hundreds, even thousands of dollars. It is far better for the two people who know a child best to come to a decision related to custody than leaving it in the hands of a stranger.
2. Seek out an experienced mediator: Custody mediators can play a crucial role in the outcome of a custody battle. These individuals can be retired attorneys, current attorneys or mediators with divorce experience, for example. The goal of mediation is to come to an agreement with which both parties can live by a give-and-take principle. Parties in mediation realize that they must give a little to get a little and the spirit of compromise is what makes mediation actually work. In the event that you are unable to come to agreements on your own, mediators can be very useful.
3. Work with existing court orders, even the recommendations: If you are in litigation and you have existing court orders, learn to work within the framework of what you have. For example, if the court order has recommended parenting classes, you should take them. Now, if the court orders you to do a proscribed activity, such as drug test or drop children off at a specific time and day, you do not have the option of whether or not to comply.
4. Seek out individual counseling: If some of your anxiety or stress stems from the fact that you are actually still grieving the loss of the relationship, it is wise to seek out private counseling to work through some of these issues to avoid the inevitable impact on your children.
The impact of divorce on children is extraordinary. Anyone who thinks that their children are not affected is not paying any attention to the obvious signs.
The above are mere suggestions to avoid some or all of the emotional detriment to your child(ren) that divorce can cause such as:
- Regressive behavior: Children who experience any trauma, particularly divorce may exhibit certain regressive behaviors such as fit throwing, tantrums, refusing to sleep alone and bed wetting, for example.
- Defiance and rebelliousness: This form of disobedience might manifest itself at home or at school. It may stem from a child’s desire to gain their parents attention in hopes of taking the focus off the divorce. Depending on the age and maturity of the child, they may feel as though they can actually do something to stop this divorce from happening even if it is in the form of very negative behavior.
- Social difficulty: Children who have a tumultuous home life can have difficulty interacting socially due to depression, sadness or grief at the loss of the family structure.
- Statistics: Studies show that children of divorced homes are more likely to drop out of high school and are at a greater risk of teenage pregnancy. Children from divorced families have higher incidence of truancy and negative attitudes toward school.
Yes, there are an equal number of studies out there that support the proposition that children from divorced families are no different emotionally, academically or financially. But more than likely those funding said studies are the very individuals who profit from the big business of child custody – Family law attorneys. It has been proven time and time again that a two parent household is best and that children who have to endure the divorce of their parents suffer. Therefore, if divorce is the only option, the way to minimize and hopefully eliminate the impact on the children is to be mature, try to work things out between the two of you, seek out an experienced mediator when unable to do so, follow all court orders and get yourself the spiritual or psychological counseling YOU need to move on and be the best parent YOU can be.