For the sake of the kids, it’s always preferable to resolve child custody issues amicably. You may find that many issues are resolvable through compromise when both parents prioritize the best interests of the children. Unfortunately, achieving mutual agreements isn’t always possible. If divorce mediation fails to resolve the dispute, a judge, like those found in Baltimore Countymust resolve the child custody case. Your divorce lawyer is likely to advise you to avoid involving your child in the dispute as much as possible.
Discussing the Divorce
Avoid discussing the divorce with your kids until you are certain that it will go forward. If possible, it may be a good idea for both parents to sit down with the kids to explain that they are going to live apart from now on. Use age-appropriate language to tell the kids that although both parents still love the kids very much, they’re not going to be married any longer. Depending on the children’s ages, they may ask which parent they will live with. Since the child custody case hasn’t been resolved yet, you can simply tell them that they will still be spending plenty of time with each of you and that neither parent will “disappear” from their lives.
Explaining the Custody Evaluation
In contested child custody cases, the judge may order that a child custody evaluation be completed. A court evaluator is a neutral third-party who will interview both of the parents, the children, and perhaps other parties such as teachers, counselors, and other family members. The court evaluator may visit each parent’s home. Parents are advised never to prepare kids to answer questions in a certain way. Rather, the kids may be told that the evaluator is trying to help the parents work through their issues and that the kids should answer any questions honestly.
Encouraging Open and Ongoing Communication
During a child custody dispute, kids may feel confused, anxious, and isolated. They may worry that the divorce is somehow their fault. It’s crucial to encourage your kids to discuss their worries and concerns. Listen to them without judgment. Reassure them that although you may not have all the answers right now, you will always love them and the situation will get better.