Three Things to Know About Negotiating Child Custody

September 26, 2018 / 8:00 pm

In a perfect world, child custody negotiations would run smoothly every time. There’d be no need for us to write this blog post, let alone focus on this practice area.

But we live in an imperfect world, one in which the question “Who gets the kids?” often leads to the ugliest chapter in many divorce cases.

However, there are ways you approach child custody matters in a way that can makes the process more comfortable, writes therapist Ugo Uche in Psychology Today.

Uche, who runs the Road 2 Resolutions counseling service in Phoenix, Arizona and lists three rules for child custody negotiations:

1. A mediator is impartial, not on your side

“In the absence of physical or sexual assault committed against the child or children, no one cares how evil you believe your ex to be,” Uche writes.

He says that parents will often point out flaws in their ex-spouse to gain sympathy or foster feelings of ill will against the other party.

But this tactic is never successful because a professional mediator is trained to take the good with the bad with each side and try to make objective conclusions.

2. Put the children first

Uche says he’ll often ask parents who are fighting over custody to step back in time: Would they have appreciated being estranged from their mother or father?

Parents who never had to face this question are thrown for a loop, while those who were separated from their mom or dad will show “feelings of sadness…and sometimes tears,” Uche writes.

While two feuding partners may not want to interact with each other, but that may not mean that they are unfit to be in their children’s lives.

Uche notes that kids in this situation often suffer an irreparable emotional wound, one that’s only salved when they get the chance to reconnect with the absent parent.

3. Be careful when setting boundaries

Think of this rule like one of those stories about someone who is granted three wishes, only to have them come back to haunt them in the end.

Parents who propose rules that they think will make their ex-spouse’s life more difficult, Uche writes, often end up suffering under those very same rules.

For example, parents who insist on giving the child plenty of leeway at the expense of their more conservative exes “often find themselves in a difficult situation when the child habitually engages in trouble making and constantly reminds the parent about the agreed upon rules.”

And parents who put limits on their communication with each other run the risk of their kids manipulating that situation to their advantage.

The end of a relationship usually produces painful emotions, Uche writes, “but placing yourself in the position of the child and making decisions for the child is usually the best result.”

Even when everyone has the best intentions, child custody negotiations can be tough. It helps to have an experienced family law attorney, like the ones at Penglase & Benson, working by your side.

Our attorneys draw on decades of legal experience to guide you with knowledge and compassion and your navigate this difficult time in your life. Contact us today for a free consultation, and we can get started on a custody arrangement that works for you and your children.