ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Child Custody: Best Interest of the Child?

Updated on January 27, 2014

The ‘child in the middle’ is axiomatic when speaking of divorce. Though everyone can recognize the children are often caught in the middle of two bitter, angry, and vindictive parents, there is often nothing really done in practical terms to help the child. In some locations, the parents are required to go to a talk about how to keep things civil throughout the divorce so that the children do not suffer, but these programs often are only a gesture and are quite ineffective.

The reactive process that likely led to the separation and divorce in the first place is not likely to abate post-divorce. Ideally, courts would require divorcing couples to get counseling or attend a series of educational talks concerning the facts of reactive process in relationship, and how this reactive process ultimately and always negatively affect their children. Of course, if the couple had gotten counseling when they ‘smelled smoke’, their house perhaps, would not have burned down.

One or both parents often try and reassure the child that the divorce has ‘nothing to do’ with the child, and then make custody of the child and how the other parent is caring for the child a central argument in their divorce. Because of the nature of reactivity (one cannot really hide reactivity from people who are close to us), the children quickly realize that their parents have lied to them, and they are, in fact, central to the divorce.

Parents will swear that they are not causing any disaffection of the child towards the other parent (and may even believe this to be true), but by their behavior and ever so subtle comments they are doing the very same. For example, one parent calls the other, ostensibly concerning a ‘parenting’ issue, which degrades into escalation over history, and the child observes and feels the parent becoming upset by the conversation. So, in the child’s mind it goes like this: Mommy is talking to Daddy about me. Mommy is getting upset. Mommy is upset with me, and I am the one making Mommy and Daddy mad at each other.

Essentially, divorcing couples triangulate the court system into their reactive process and try to use the courts (and their children) as tools to clobber each other. Some attorneys are quite savvy at keeping the reactivity between the couple going, because as long as they do, the couple is likely to continue a series of court actions, which allows the attorney to keep getting a pay day.

Frustrated judges may at times resort to ’50-50’ custody arrangement, or succumb to this at the demand of one of the parents. And such custody arrangements are devastating to the well being of the child; they have nothing to do with the best interest of the child, only the vitriol of the parents for each other. The younger the child, the worse the 50-50 arrangement is. These 50-50 arrangements can be set up that the child is in one of the homes, literally, fifty percent of the week. Sometimes the pattern is ordered to rotate, so each parent gets the weekend as part of their fifty percent. The other version of this, which is even worse, is the child goes from one home to the other each day, spending an alternating night in each home.

Developmentally, this kind of custody arrangement is completely nonsensical. Children need consistency and routine to thrive and grow normally. A child needs to be in the same bed on every school night (Sunday through Thursday). To do otherwise is developmentally abusive to the child. 50-50 custody is far too stressful on the developing child, who worries about homework and backpacks, is disrupted by the two different household routines (not to mention often, drastically different lifestyles), sleeping in a different bed, knowing where the bathroom is in the middle of the night, missing toys and belongings for whatever home that they are not in, and the inevitably highly stressful transfer between parents (often with one or both parent’s brand new paramour glowering in the passenger seat).

Some courts allow a parent who has not seen the child for often long periods of time (months, years) to step right back in and demand (and get) visitation, without regard to how the child will emotionally and psychologically cope with this. In many cases, young children as well as teens will vocalize that they do not want to have contact with a parent who has been ‘missing’ for some time. In the case of very young children, they may not even have clear recall of the parent in question, making visitation basically visitation with a stranger. It appears clear that courts would be wise indeed to make it standard practice to require such parents to attend counseling sessions prior to any contact, to advise expectations, and to act as a safeguard of future repeats. These parents must hear why their disappearance and expectation to simply step back to the child in a parenting role is so damaging to the child.

In cases of older children in their tweens or teens, there are still judges who valiantly try to use their authority to press these children to have contact with parents that the child clearly and repeatedly states they do not want to see. This places the court in the position to legislate relationship, which is patently ridiculous. Tweens and teens are notoriously at an age where they dig in their heels. How is a 120 pound mother supposed to force her 180 pound fifteen year old son into the car to go for his court ordered visit with his father, whom the boy says is consistently intoxicated (and the mother is so highly resentful of)?

The argument frequently develops that the custodial parent is unduly influencing the tween or teen in their thinking about the other parent. Parental influence being a reality aside, in most cases, the child has a very good and legitimate reason to be angry with and resist contact with the parent. The request to the court is to force the child to visit with the resisted parent, and often, the court agrees with this and makes the order. If the child does comply with the court order, they often spend the visit either in complete gloominess, or worse, the visit becomes a reactive process that escalates and damages the parent-child relationship even more. Wiser judges may want to order the parent(s) and child into counseling that is designed to calm the reactive process and then have a change at real and lasting repair.

Issues of child custody and court actions are best served by education of judges and divorcing couples, so that the emotional and psychological dynamics of legal actions can be weighed, and alternatives explored that have the potential to be in the better interest of the child.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)