The Challenges of Finding the Right Custody & Visitation Arrangement
The majority of psychologists and child advocacy groups agree that the most important factor for children’s well being during and after divorce is limiting the amount and intensity of conflict between parents. It follows that agreement between parents on discipline and child rearing, as well as love and approval from both parents, contributes to a child’s sense of security and self-worth.
The fact that children need the support and presence of both parents in their lives has led family courts in Alabama and throughout the country to encourage and order joint custody arrangements unless there is a clear indication that joint custody would not be in a child’s best interests. But while joint custody does have many benefits, recent research suggests there may be times when there are drawbacks to this arrangement.
Is joint custody best for children?
In the words of one psychologist, “Joint physical custody is the best and the worst arrangement for children” (Psychology Today). At its best, joint physical custody represents the parents’ attempt to make the best of a bad situation. At its worst, it can intensify a child’s feeling of being torn in two.
According to some research, younger children may think they are being punished when they are moved from one household to another, while older children may dislike a joint custody arrangement if it intrudes on their daily lives. Some parents in joint custody arrangements fight with each other because they are in constant contact. Their children suffer as a result.
When considering a joint custody arrangement, it is important to understand that successful joint parenting requires regular communication and cooperation that may be difficult for parents who do not get along. If there is a very high level of conflict between parents, then a joint living arrangement may not be in the best interest of children.
A psychologist who works with divorcing families observed, “A lot of the success of [joint physical custody] arrangements depends on the level of communication the parents are able to have with each other. There needs to be a willingness to focus in a businesslike manner on the needs of the child, or the child could have a less favorable prognosis for coping with the divorce” (FamilyEducation).
Talk to an Experienced Divorce & Custody Attorney about Your Concerns
When you are facing divorce and have children, custody and visitation arrangements may be some of the most difficult matters to work through during the divorce process. Contact Lana Hawkins, Attorney at Law, at The Hawkins Law Firm in Guntersville, Huntsville, and Arab for advice and representation from an experienced Alabama family law attorney.