Practical Tips for Minimizing Custody Disputes
In a recent article in The Legal Intelligencer, Attorney Lisa Shapson outlines some important advice for parents going through custody litigation, or parents who are living with their children on a custody schedule. Her five pieces of advice are all based on the premise that children are very observant and highly influenced by what they see their parents do and say. This fact is magnified by the prospect of your child being interviewed by the court, as allowed by Pennsylvania Law; children may reveal things to the Judge that you otherwise thought or hoped went unnoticed.
You are the Parent
Shapson’s first piece of advice is to remember to be your child’s parent, not your child’s friend. Confiding in your child about the divorce proceedings, or acting as if your child is your therapist, can be harmful to your child and the parent-child relationship. A divorce is already hard enough on children, but adding behind the scenes details into the mix will only complicate the child’s feelings and how they view you as an authority figure.
Don’t be Negative
Second, Shapson suggests to never represent the other parent in a negative light, whether directly or indirectly. For example, parents should never speak poorly about the other parent to a third party in front of the children. Parents should also be cognizant of their body language when speaking about the other parent, or when speaking to the other parent in front of the children. These subtle messages, Shapson says, are easily picked up by children.
Communicate Verbally and Respectfully
Third, try to communicate with the other parent verbally when possible, and always respectfully. Text messages and emails lend themselves to many misinterpretations. When verbalizing with the other parent, make sure to not let any disagreements turn into a fight in front of the children.
Social Media is Not Therapy
Fourth, Shapson urges parents to not use social media as therapy. As many children and parents both use social media, it can be harmful if a child sees something personal about the divorce, or life after the divorce, especially for the first time, on the internet. Children will likely not want details that can be very personal to them plastered on the internet for others to see.
Last, Shapson recommends that parents be empathetic towards each other. Each parent often sees themselves as sacrificing a lot, while losing sight of everything the other parent is sacrificing. Empathy towards the other parent will increase communication skills and make life much smoother for the children.
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If you are in Central Pennsylvania and need assistance with a child custody case, please Contact Us.