It is important that, to the extent at all possible, relationships between parents and children be maintained after a divorce or separation. Custody determinations and visitation arrangements affect the rights of your children.
Courts must determine custody and visitation in accordance with “the child’s best interests.” No brainer? I assure you nothing in family law is so often recited, yet so often violated, as “the child’s best interests.” Dueling parents seldom get this right, and the cost to your child is devastating. So here’s a test question: Are you fighting over your child? If so, you and the other parent are harming the child right now. The first parent to understand this point will probably get custody, and in the process save the child a lifetime of pain.
The best interests of a child are defined by statute by a host of factors, including:
But I re-emphasize: when discussing physical custody and visitation rights, it is essential, even for grandparents and other relatives to avoid the trap of making children pawns. I and any number of child psychologists in this field can assure you that prolonged exposure of kids to parental conflict and parental alienation can be every bit as damaging to your child’s development as physical and even sexual abuse.
This point is so critical that if I could grant you any one wish, it would be for you and the other parent to understand and live by what I have described here.