Author Topic: Protecting Children During Child Custody Disagreements  (Read 3080 times)

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Offline ndcw

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Protecting Children During Child Custody Disagreements
« on: March 04, 2015, 12:08:17 PM »
Hey all, here's a post I worked on that I figured would be able to spark some discussion.

Life after a divorce can be tough on parents and their children, both emotionally and financially. Depending on the child custody and support agreements the former spouses reached in the divorce, disagreements about child custody could arise after a court order is in place. 

While parents may believe that fighting for custody rights stems from their love for their children, those very disagreements can end up causing harm.

If you are going through a divorce and anticipate challenges in determining which parent has primary custody and what visitation arrangements may be, keep your child’s emotional needs on the forefront of your mind.

Changes to a Prior Custody Agreement
In some cases, the safety of a child may be threatened by the behavior of a custodial parent. In others, there are changes to the family structure for one parent that may impact their custodial duties. The child may already be in a stressful situation, and facing a fresh custody battle may make it even harder.

There are several situations that can bring on a change to a custody agreement. One parent may want to modify the court-ordered custody agreement due to drug or alcohol use, neglect, or another situation or concern. In cases like this, it is important to give your children support to help them feel as secure as possible through any legal proceedings and a transition to another parent’s custody. The need to protect the children’s safety is paramount and getting help from an attorney to initiate the changes in the custody agreement can help you navigate the legal system more quickly.

In other cases, circumstances for the divorced parents may have significantly changed, including remarriage. While children’s safety may not be at risk in these situations, the uncertainty of having a home with a stable family can still cause children stress. They may feel unloved or abandoned if a custodial parent begins to shift their interests to other family members, including children of a new spouse.

If you are considering a change to a prior custody agreement, you need to take the proper legal steps to enact that change. You are required to adhere to the terms of a custody order. A failure to do so can lead to legal trouble and will make it more difficult to modify the custody agreement favorably.

Children’s Perception of the Disagreement
It is important to keep in mind how children might perceive the circumstances that lead up to the changes in the custody agreement and what changes may come after a new agreement is in place.

Children can internalize events around them and believe they are a cause of change, thinking they may have done or said things that made their custodial parent unhappy with them. They may feel they are not worthy of being loved.

If the custody agreement change happens because the custodial parent is abusive or neglectful, the children may already be traumatized by other events.

If you are going through a change to a custody agreement, be sure to talk to your children often. Ask how they feel. Find out what worries or concerns they have. Explain to them why this change is happening and what the process involves.

Tips About Resolving Differences with Your Ex-Spouse
Divorced couples with children need to remember that while their relationship may be over, each parent plays a key role in their children's life. You and your ex owe it to your children to resolve your differences through honest and respectful communication.

How you and your ex-spouse communicate through the process will have an impact on your children as well. It is best to be respectful to your ex to prevent him or her from dragging the children emotionally into a custody battle.

Keep the following in mind when involved in a disagreement with your former spouse about child custody or visitation schedules:
  • Be willing to take responsibility for your own role in the situation.
  • Set your emotions aside.
  • Keep your child's health, happiness and well-being as the priority at all times.
  • Do not rehash marital issues, and keep your attention focused on your child's needs.
  • If your conversation becomes heated, take a break, gather your thoughts and try again later.
  • Avoid having any discussions about child custody or visitation within hearing distance of your children.
  • Realize the relationship your ex-spouse has with your child is as important as your relationship with your child.

How to Communicate with Your Child About a Custody Disagreement
As a parent, you should never assume your child is unaware of the disagreements you and your former spouse are having about child custody or visitation. Children are very intuitive and generally notice everything.

If a disagreement arises, you will want to minimize the impact the disagreement will have on any children in the household. Children often feel guilty about a marital break-up or disagreements between parents. Never put your child in the middle by using him or her as a messenger. Refrain from making negative comments to your child about your ex-spouse.

Parents set an example for acceptable behavior to their children. How you communicate with each other and how you choose to resolve conflicts will affect how your child solves his or her own problems in the future. When talking to your child about what is happening, communicate in a way that makes sense to a child. Be respectful to your child by being honest about your intentions, as well as the basis for the disagreement, without exaggeration. Let your child know how much he or she is loved. Ask his or her opinion and listen carefully to what your child has to say.

How to Modify a Custody or Visitation Order
If you believe circumstances warrant a modification of your visitation schedule or child custody agreement, your first step should be to hire a skilled divorce attorney. An attorney will be able to review your situation, review the facts and petition the court for a modification to the existing order. It will be necessary to provide supporting evidence for your request unless the other parent is in agreement with the changes you propose.

Put Your Children First
Any child custody battle is stressful. As a parent, you can take steps to go through the process in a way that keeps your children’s interests at the forefront. It can be difficult to put yourself in the minds of your children, but considering their perspective throughout the custody changes is imperative. When you aren’t sure what they’re feeling, ask. Showing you are truly interested in how they feel and what they think can give them a sense of security that you are acting in their interest.


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