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Don't focus on the negative when making child custody decisions

When parents in California divorce, it can be difficult to make decisions regarding child custody. It can be distressing to realize that after the divorce is final, they will not see their child every day. In addition, parents may question the ability of their ex to help raise the child, especially if the divorce was acrimonious. However, despite these negative misgivings, parents can try to work together to create a parenting plan that meets the child's best interests, along with those of the parents. When doing so, there are important points to keep in mind.

First, unless there are instances of abuse or neglect at the hand of one parent, parents need to recognize that they are both capable of raising the child. Sometimes, a parent wants to demonize their ex. However, this may not be in the best interest of the child. Instead, it can help to work with a professional who can objectively assess the parents' situation to help them make fair decisions.

Second, even if parents are still fighting with one another, they need to put their differences aside and put the child's needs first. Children do not deserve to be estranged from one parent or the other. Again, unless instances of abuse or neglect exist, children need to be able to have a healthy relationship with each parent.

Finally, parents should not insist upon certain rules just to make their ex's life difficult, as those rules could also affect them negatively. For example, if the child is acting up or getting into trouble post-divorce, parents need to present a unified front when addressing the situation and anticipate how to handle such matters, rather than simply reacting to them.

As this shows, even if parents simply cannot get along with one another, it is still to their benefit and the benefit of the child to try to work through child custody issues in an appropriate manner. Child custody decisions made when parents divorce can affect the child and the parents for years to come. Therefore, it is important that these decisions are fair to all involved and serve the child's best interests.

Source: Psychology Today, "Three Rules for Negotiating Child Custody," Ugo Uche, June 17, 2013

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