As stressful as divorce can be on spouses, it’s even more challenging for children. Kids of any age can suffer psychological problems before, during, and long after a divorce. However, there are some steps you can take to mitigate the adverse effects of a child custody case litigated near Pikesville. In fact, some of these recommendations may even be mandated by the child custody order, such as the avoidance of disparaging the other parent in front of the child.
Avoid Using Your Child as a Messenger
Even in an uncontested divorce, children can suffer significant psychological harm if they are made to be active participants in the logistics of child custody arrangements. Parents who wish to avoid communicating with each other may instead ask the child to serve as a messenger. It may seem relatively benign to ask a child to tell one parent that the other will be a little late picking up the child. But doing so sends a subtle message to the child that the parents are incapable of communicating with each other. It also exposes the child to the potentially negative emotional response of the parent who receives the message.
Avoid Cutting Off Communication With the Other Parent
Talk to your family lawyer about including communication provisions in the child custody agreement. The document should include an arrangement for ongoing, regular communication between parents, as well as emergency contact information. While your ex-spouse may be the last person you want to talk with, cutting off communication or communicating through intermediaries is a grave mistake. For instance, it means that you may not discover that your child is struggling in school until the report card arrives or that you might not learn new medical information regarding your child.
Avoid Making Your Child Choose Sides
Parents may not directly inform a child that he or she must choose which parent he or she prefers, but even doing so indirectly can be irreparably harmful to the child. For example, avoid telling your child that he or she can pick which parent to spend a holiday with. Avoid disparaging the other parent in front of the child or asking your child to report on the goings-on at the other parent’s home. Above all, remember to put your child’s best interests ahead of your own.