Dealing with a Child Custody Battle

When children are caught in the middle of divorce proceedings, it can often lead to an ugly custody battle. Kids who are already going through an emotional upheaval due to the divorce will have even more stress shoved on them when that battle throws them in the middle. An important question the parents should ask themselves is, “Is a custody battle worth it?”

Remember the Children…

When my ex husband and I divorced, we decided first and foremost to put the children first. He had once told me that if our marriage were to ever end, he would fight me for custody. I believed him. He was, and is, a wonderful father. There was no reason to turn what could be a fairly amicable divorce into an ugly custody battle for no apparent reason. As unconventional as it was at the time, and as heartbreaking as it was for me, he retained custody of our children. The result? Because we did our best to put our differences aside during the divorce proceedings, we are friendly towards each other today. We can be together for ball games and school functions without any tension. My oldest son recently told me that our divorce was “different” from other divorces his friends’ parents had gone through and he was glad that his father and I got along. Hearing his thoughts made that heartbreaking decision worth it.

All too often, it seems that the parents will use a custody battle to hurt each other. Accusations and ugly words will be slung back and forth, in courtrooms and in private. They often don’t realize that what they say may hurt the kids more than their spouse. Children love both parents. They don’t want, or need, to hear ugly words about either one. By putting the children first and deciding what would actually make this time less stressful for them, you can avoid a lot of unnecessary pain.

Ask Yourself…

What would make the upcoming transition easier on the children? Is one parent going to retain possession of the house? If both parents are equally qualified to retain child custody and one parent is keeping the house, consider the fact that this is where the children are comfortable. This may be the only home they have known. By making a decision that will force them to move to unfamiliar surroundings and perhaps a new school, the parents are giving the children one more thing to stress over.

Has there been a primary caregiver? Perhaps one parent has worked long or odd hours, while the other has stayed at home or worked only while the children have been in school. Keep in mind that this is again what the children are familiar with. They have known that when they come home from school, someone would be there

Kids thrive on routine. By deciding which parent would be best suited to maintain that routine as much as possible, the divorcing couple can make the proceedings easier on the children. By making these decisions honestly is a good way to put the children first during this stressful time.

Something to keep in mind…

Remember that although the marriage is over, the relationship is not when it comes to the children. There will still be situations where co-parenting will be needed such as school activities, teacher conferences, graduations and weddings. By remembering that there will be times when the kids will need and want both parents present, it may make it easier to let the past rest. By putting the children first, it will leave no opportunity for letting bitterness and resentment rule.

When it’s worth the battle…

Of course, there are times when it is worth the fight to obtain child custody. If there is a chance the children may be placed in dangerous situations, or less than ideal living conditions, then it is worth fighting for custody. Even in this situation, however, it is best for the kids if the couple keep personal feelings towards each other out of the situation. State the case based on facts and not feelings of resentment.

For every decision made during divorce proceedings, it is important to ask who it really benefits. In an ugly custody battle, the ones who really end up losing are the children.