One of the primary reasons that divorces are contested is because a couple cannot agree on custody arrangements for their minor children. Both parents want primary physical custody and the majority of the parenting time, leading to custody disputes. Since custody affects issues like child support, medical insurance, and other major issues, these disputes can be drawn out for months or even years. During this time period both parents are often at odds with each other and usually their family members or friends will share their disdain. Regardless of how a former couple feels about each other, shielding children during a custody battle should be important to both since it is vital to the mental well-being of the minor children.
Do Not Ask Them Questions
Usually the judge responsible for making the final decision regarding child custody will agree to a temporary visitation arrangement that allows the non-custodial parent to spend time with the children. Depending on the age of the children, this parenting time could take place on the weekend for school aged children or any time during the month for preschoolers. Both parents may be tempted to ask the children what their former spouse is doing or who they are talking to in an effort to get information that may be used to influence the judge’s decision regarding custody. While it is tempting to obtain information by any means possible, questioning children confuses them and places them in a difficult position. Avoid asking the children any questions about their other parent that may make them feel uncomfortable or later cause difficulties if the other parent finds out about the questioning.
Discourage Negative Talk About the Other Parent
After a divorce or legal separation, the friends and family members of both adults may have bad feelings towards the other parent. Often they express these feelings and opinions in the form of verbal criticisms. Even if you agree with their assessments, it is important that you discourage negative talk about the other parent when the children are present. Negative talk makes children feel either guilty or uncomfortable and if the separation or temporary custody agreement specifically mentions that neither parent can disparage the other, the parent who allowed the talk to occur could find themselves in trouble. Always tell friends and family members to speak respectfully about your former spouse when your children are present.
Make Them Feel Comfortable
Stability and routine are extremely important to children after their parents have separated. It is important that you work hard to make them feel comfortable about their new life and surroundings. One way to make them feel comfortable is to allow them to talk about your former spouse in a positive manner. When they talk to your ex-spouse on the telephone, enjoy activities with them, or otherwise spend time with your former spouse make sure they know it is okay to talk about these things with you. Regular discourse is different than gossip and your children should not feel as though they need to hide their relationship with their other parent from you.
Let Your Attorney Help
Having a contested divorce prolonged because of custody issues is difficult for everyone involved. Both the adults and children are eager to have the legalities behind them so that they can move forward with their lives. When you feel as if your divorce is going nowhere, consulting a qualified attorney is the best way to get things moving again. The skilled attorneys at Vayman and Teitlebaum are available to provide you with the assistance you need. With offices located throughout the metro area of Atlanta, our aggressive child custody attorneys can help you obtain the agreement you desire. Contact us today at 678-736-7700 to discuss your situation and schedule a consultation.