Facing a custody battle with your soon-to-be-ex? Do everything you can to put on the brakes. Your children have one set of parents. Having you two at war over them is a bit like putting their sense of family through a paper shredder.
First, let’s be certain about what harms children when parents divorce and child custody battles:
- A break in the family rhythm they rely upon
- Getting caught in the middle and/or having to pick sides between battling parents
- Being unsupported through their emotional journey as parents deal with their own emotions and drama
- Losing contact, engagement, and relationship with a parent as an outcome of a “bad divorce” process or decisions that fail to consider what is best for the child or children.
Your decision to divorce doesn’t need to harm or disadvantage your kids – but a custody fight very likely will. A good divorce recognizes that both parents are important to a child’s healthy physical and emotional development. Even parents with mental health or addiction issues play an important role in a child’s perception of themselves.
Save custody battles for circumstances where a child’s safety is at risk, and parents are absolutely unable to keep children safe: Mandating supervision during residential time, sobriety verifications.
Follow these three steps to avoid a custody battle and ensure that you’re doing “what’s best for kids” as you proceed through divorce:
- Get on the same team regarding the importance of taking a child-centric approach to custody. Spare them the damage and drama of knowing that the end of your partnership is now bleeding all over their need for you to simply be “good enough” parents for them!!
- Find highly capable professionals (attorney mediators and/or mental health professionals) who specialize in helping you develop a child-centered parenting plan that helps you restructure your family and get alignment on a coParenting plan that works for the family. There are many online resources (including the coParenter app and Guidance Center) [inset coParenter??] to assist parents in managing conflict and determining kid-centric parenting plans.
- Spend time reading everything you can on what kids need through their parents’ divorce and afterward. Keep yourselves on the right track: Value and focus on co-parenting above all, manage your emotional outbursts, communicate responsibly, support children to love each of you out loud without guilt, and build a sense of home with each of you for a secure future. [Insert The Parenting Plan Workbook with companion videos??]
You are the two best people to determine your children’s future! Don’t hand your parenting future or your children’s sense of family off to a third-party decision maker.
You can work your way through emotional upset, loss, hurt, betrayals that are likely part of ending your intimate partnership. Get support to manage the financial fears often triggered by divorce. All of these worries and concerns will one day be in the rearview mirror. Parenting is forever. They’ll be forever grateful you did!