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What are the parental do's and don'ts in a child-custody case?

Most parents want what is best for their children. Sometimes, though, life makes it hard for some parents to see what their children's best interests really are. During many divorces, for example, including some in Pennsylvania, parents confuse their own best interests with those of their children and end up battling their spouses over child custody and parenting plans without clearly understanding what they really need to do.

So what will best meet children's needs? First, realize that children do not want to get caught between warring parents. It creates anxiety and fear. Second, consider sharing custody so that the children can move from one home to the other on a regular basis. This can help children adjust better once the divorce is finalized. Third, both parents need to act like adults and show their children that, even though relationships can sometimes be strained, adults can reach competent decisions that benefit everyone.

What should parents avoid doing during divorce? First, parents should never use their children as pawns. Seeking sole custody out of spite puts the children's interests and relationship with both parents at risk. Second, parents should never confront each other in front of their children; keep arguments private and away from the children to avoid scaring them. Although divorce will never feel normal to parents or children, taking away some of the fear of the unknown will help everyone realize that being a family is still possible even if the parents do not live together.

When facing a dispute over child custody, every parent should understand what the real issues are and what the impediments are to solving them. Legal advice from an experienced divorce attorney can also provide sound guidance and show the alternatives available to finding an arrangement that works for both parents and children.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Divorcing? A few dos and don'ts to help keep the holidays bright for your kids," Cheryl and Joel Dillon, Dec. 12, 2014

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