Divorce is difficult on children. In a shared physical custody situation, kids are often forced to live between two households. Younger children are often disoriented, caused by the house-to-house transitions. Cell phones, computer chargers, text books, lunch boxes, dancing shoes, and lacrosse sticks always seem to be at the “wrong house” at the wrong time. Even if you have two sets of everything, things will inevitably be misplaced or lost in the household transitions.
When divorcing parties cannot agree on a custody schedule, they often turn to a custody mediator. In many Pennsylvania counties, custody mediation is mandatory prior to seeking court intervention. Many counties also require parenting classes.
Despite the best intentions of every person involved in your custody dispute, it is almost always best to try to settle child custody matters amicably, without the need for court intervention. Unfortunately, sometimes avoiding court intervention is simply not possible.
NO PERSON KNOWS YOUR CHILDREN BETTER THAN YOU KNOW THEM
Even though courts try extremely hard to make decisions “in the best interests of the child”, the truth is, compared to the parents of the child, the courts often have a very limited view of a child’s daily life and special needs. On the other hand, the parents know much more about their own child than a stranger could ever learn during a short interview with a minor, or during a court proceeding. Pennsylvania child custody law requires the courts to consider 16 factors when making a child custody determination. The weight the court gives to each factor is left to the court.
KEEPING YOUR CHILD’S BEST INTERESTS AT THE VERY TOP OF YOUR PRIORITY LIST
Kids do not usually ask for their parents to divorce each other. Kids are often innocent bystanders. One way to help protect your kids is to try to remain open minded and flexible about their custody schedule. I have seen custody disputes ignited out of one parent making a huge deal out of the other parent being 10 minutes late for a scheduled drop off, due to heavy traffic. I have also seen a mother deny the father custody of their toddler because he fell a little behind in his child support payments. Withholding custody due to late child support payments is not only impermissible under the law, it ends up hurting the child.
For some parents, it is easy to get caught up in the emotional aspect of going through a divorce. Where your kids are concerned, it is important to simply “do the next right thing” concerning their well-being and best interests. Keeping your kids out of the middle of a custody dispute with your former spouse is always in the kids best interests. Think about it. Practice it. Your kids will appreciate it.