It may be difficult to come up with the best parenting arrangement during a divorce, but custody should be considered for the children's best interests.
When two people are getting a divorce, few disputes are as difficult and emotionally charged as child custody. Most Virginia parents ending a marriage will usually need to come to an agreement on whether the mother or father gets physical custody. Often, both parents will share parenting time. Since both parents may have different ideas on parenting strategies, shared custody may end up being contentious. This is also true if ex-spouses continue to have hard feelings when dealing with each other.
It is often hard emotionally for parents who share custody, but for children, it is even worse. After being used to having both parents in the same home, they are suddenly forced to split time between two households. This can be frightening and confusing, especially for younger children. It is important for parents to reassure their children that their mother and father still love them very much and that the divorce does not change that.
Tips for shared parenting
After a divorce, the parenting arrangement may equally divide parenting time, or one parent may have the children more than the other. No matter how custody is divided, the way both parents treat each other, especially in front of the children, can make a great difference in how children adjust after a divorce. Parents magazine has shared some tips to make co-parenting more effective. These include the following:
- Never say bad things about the ex in front of the children. This can confuse them, and also hurts them to hear negative things said about someone they love. If there are disputes about child support, parenting methods or other issues, they should only be spoken to other adults.
- Don't use children to spy on what the other parent is doing or to relay messages. Parents should be able to communicate with each other in matters pertaining to their children.
- Approach child custody as a business arrangement. The goal is to negotiate matters for the best interests of the children.
- Be open to adjust the custody arrangement in the future if needed. This is often the case as children get older and have different needs for child care, after-school activities and other matters. The work schedules of the parents may also change, necessitating a change in parenting time.
Above all, it is important to make sure the children know they have a voice and that their opinions are valued, including their own ideas on spending time with each parent.
Juvenile hall for children who wouldn't speak to dad
Recently, reported NBC News, a Michigan judge sent three children to a detention center for juveniles after they would not speak with their father or have lunch with him in a family court cafeteria. The circumstances leading up to the situation were unclear, but it appeared the children did not have a close relationship with their father. The two parents had been in a fight for custody since December 2009. One of the children told the judge they did not want to see their father because he had been violent with their mother. The judge later changed her ruling to send the children to summer camp instead, where they would still be allowed visits with both parents.
Custody battles can be heartbreaking for Virginia families. In some cases, a court will intervene, but these decisions are not always in the best interests of the children. If you are going through a divorce, you may need to speak with a family law attorney to protect the rights of you and your children.