When it comes to dealing with couples in the midst of divorcing, undoubtedly the most difficult issue to contend with involves children. No matter how difficult dissolving a marriage is for adults, this transition that much harder for the kids, even under the most non-contentious circumstances.
Yet, throughout the divorce process – and after – emotions sometimes dismantle common sense, which makes for some ill-conceived decision-making. I urge all parents who are currently going through this process, or are about to undertake this ordeal, to consider several facts. The first is that in most circumstances, shared custody is the healthiest outcome for children. Secondly, in the process of ensuring equitable distribution of property, long-established routines and precedents can be undermined in the name of equality – and for no one’s benefit. And finally, using children as leverage is absolutely never beneficial to those kids.
Divorced parents who have joint shared physical custody have children who are more emotionally and psychologically healthy, according to Dr. Linda Nielsen, a Professor of Adolescent & Educational Psychology at Wake Forest University in Winston Salem, NC. This is because both parents are actively involved in their children’s lives. However, this is not the only benefit, shared physical custody also affords the highest rate of child support payment and compliance. Further, those with shared physical custody experience the smallest rate of post divorce litigation.
Now, even divorced couples that have been awarded joint shared physical custody can face issues. Some of these issues arise when a parent begins to challenge another. These challenges might come in the form of questioning why certain parental decisions are left to one primary decision-maker. While this challenge might be valid on paper, it’s important to consider that before divorce, in any relationship, certain decisions, chores, and responsibilities typically fall on one parent over the other. However, during or after a divorce, this is the type of issue raised in order to alienate one parent and has little basis in practical reality. My question to you: do you really need to go ten rounds over who decides the weekend to hold Johnny’s birthday party? Would you have weighed in on this prior to your divorce?
I have experienced a number of clients who have been challenged by their former spouse about being left alone with his or her own children, even when prior to the divorce process, this had never been a consideration. Bringing allegations forward in the name of winning in a divorce battle is damaging to all involved, especially the children.
These types of arguments are the things many divorce attorneys live for – because every argument over inconsequential details adds to the attorney’s bottom line. However, using the children as weapons is unconscionable. It’s important to remember, especially when emotions get a hold of you, that divorces are for parents, not for children.