Child’s Best Interests? Common Mistakes Divorcing Parents Make When Deciding Custody

When a marriage breaks down, it is because one or both spouses are unwilling to stay committed to the relationship. Many factors can lead to this decision, but children should not be blamed. Unfortunately, kids of divorced parents often become victims of the spouses’ tense interactions and incompatibility, which should not be the case. This can make children feel guilty or divided, even when you don’t blame them for the separation. Here are some common mistakes the parents make toward their children during or after a divorce.

Emotional Turmoil

When one or both parents are emotionally struggling with the divorce, they sometimes vent about it in front of the kids or directly to the children. Often, the other parent is portrayed as “the bad one” who is causing the problems. Sometimes both parents criticize each other. 

The children feel bad hearing the criticism and complaints about one or both parents, as the kids are helpless to do anything about the problem and often feel confused about who to believe or how to respond to each parent. They may also believe that the perceived faults of one or both of their parents are inherently their faults as well. The children may become depressed or anxious as a result. Because of this, make sure you take responsibility for your mental health while dealing with a broken marriage. Take your issues to a therapist and try to resolve them the best you can. Even though it may be difficult, don’t put any strain onto your child. They shouldn’t ever feel responsible for the emotional turmoil you are currently going through. 

Personal Struggles

Even when parents don’t blame each other, they may have difficulties adjusting to a divorced lifestyle. The children’s residence may change, or they may divide their time between both parents. 

While these adjustments may be unavoidable, parents should cooperate to make the transition as smooth as possible for the kids. Agreement on schools, religious affiliations, social activities, and vacations can be mandated by the court to a point, but it is important for parents to follow the schedule in positive ways to help the kids adjust. Make sure to avoid arguing about how to split time with your child in front of them. This will only create more distress for them. They will feel like they are now a burden for each of you. Meet with a lawyer if you need to resolve any issues you are having when it comes to custody agreements. 

New Relationships

Following a divorce (or resulting in a divorce), one or both parents may quickly get involved with another person. This new relationship can be upsetting to children who remain loyal to both parents. Introducing the kids to a new person too soon may complicate efforts to sort the family issues and keep the children balanced and accepting of the divorce. A parent who establishes a new relationship right after the divorce unwittingly forces their children to adapt to a new person in their lives while they are still getting used to post-marital changes. You might want to take some time away from dating for a while as your child gets used to the new family dynamic. It can become stressful for them to keep adapting to new changes. 

Other Influences

Some parents choose or have to completely change their lives after a divorce by moving out of the family home, getting a new job, and reordering their social life. Holidays, birthdays, and extended family gatherings can become points of contention between the parents and drain the joy from their children’s celebration of special events. 

It’s important to remember that your children depend on you and should be your priority. Talk to them about the changes that are happening and what they might expect going forward. If they’re uncomfortable with certain changes, see what you can do to find a compromise or to make it easier for them. This will help them regain a sense of stability, even in difficult times. Make sure you always maintain a good relationship with your child. Keep a good line of communication between you two. Make it known to them that they can always come to you for any concerns or trouble they are having when it comes to your divorce. Allowing them to healthily express their feelings will help them cope in the best way and will prevent them from developing long-lasting trauma. 

Neglecting Legal Advice

Divorces aren’t pleasant. It’s emotional, and participants’ feelings are often hurt either purposefully or accidentally by the other. However, it doesn’t have to be a drawn out conflict either that goes all the way to court, especially when it comes to deciding custody. After all, you both still want what’s best for your kids. 

In this case, it’s often a good idea to talk to a lawyer for legal advice. Divorce lawyers act as go-betweens between the couples, helping to provide some distance and keep things professional. Your lawyer can also give you advice on what to expect when it comes to making a custody arrangement. They’ll talk to you about precedents, common arrangements and schedules, and contingencies. Additionally, a divorce lawyer will help make sure everything is filed correctly so that things don’t have to drag out longer than necessary.

Don’t let a painful divorce hurt your children unnecessarily. Cooperate as best you can with your ex-spouse, talk with your kids about their needs and emotions, and contact divorce lawyers for assistance if needed.