It may seem obvious to say, but most divorces involve conflict. However, you may find comfort in hearing that the conflict, while intense in the throes of divorce, typically fades during the years immediately afterward. Unfortunately, the child custody rulings made in the heat of conflict may remain in place throughout the child’s life.
This is what studies are showing, and research indicates that the effects of unbalanced custody arrangements can be detrimental to a child. Despite data that supports shared parenting, over 80 percent of child custody rulings favor full custody for the mother and visitation privileges for the father.
The conflict that isn’t
Child psychologists say that judges make their decisions because parents present them with pictures of a battle in the household. Parents who want to win custody of their children may exaggerate the differences they have. If you have especially strong reasons to be angry with your spouse, you may present your spouse’s parenting skills in the worst possible light, and a Pennsylvania judge may rule that, based on your testimony and evidence, sharing custody would place the children in the middle of an unhealthy situation.
Researchers are urging judges not to make custody rulings based on perceived conflict between parents. More and more studies are demonstrating that, unless there is abuse or neglect, having equal access to both parents may provide your children with immeasurable benefits, including:
- Lower chance of teen pregnancy
- Less likelihood of drug use
- Better success in school
- More optimistic outlook on life
The studies also relieve you of being perfect. If you and your co-parent struggle with co-parenting, it may not make a difference. The important factor seems to be that your children have the chance to develop strong bonds with both of you. Your children’s relationships with both parents — not your relationship with your ex-spouse — matter most.
When there are no losers, everyone wins
Custody arrangements made in the midst of conflict are difficult to undo, and too often, custody settlements end with one winner and one loser. Ultimately, psychologists say the children lose unless they have valuable time with each parent.
Many parents find that sorting out a shared parenting plan prior to going to divorce court often leaves them with a workable, flexible arrangement that is still viable long after the conflict has died down. For assistance in developing a parenting plan that will benefit your children and support your parental rights, the guidance of a family law attorney could prove invaluable.