Custody and Visitation cases have very emotional components involving your former partner. Even though you are no longer in an existing day-to-day relationship with that person doesn’t mean you won’t have to interact with one another. Your relationship is now very different and those feelings are not exclusive to you. Studies have shown that children share the impact of separated families. Before you make any decisions, it is important to speak with a qualified New York family law attorney. Call the New York Family Law Group at (718)-293-1542 to contact one of our experienced child custody lawyers.
The following are the “ten commandments” that have been adapted from a long-time colleague, Sam Doulberg, to help you understand a child’s perspective, what behaviors they do and don’t want to participate in during a court proceeding, and what you can do to minimize that impact in your case.
- Put your child’s needs in the center of your thinking in all aspects of the proceeding.
- Always respect the other parent when talking to your child. Never insult, disrespect or put down the other parent to your child or have other family members engage in this behavior Your child will resent this behavior.
- If you are the primary caretaker, be generous in allowing the other parent or grandparent to spend time with your child. Your child will appreciate this behavior.
- Never do things like recording conversations, posting to social media, or “live stream” with your children in order to enhance your legal position. This is likely to make things worse and this behavior stresses your child.
- Never ask your child about what goes on in the other parent’s home. Children know when they are being used as “spies” and do not like it.
- Never tell your child what they should tell their lawyer, known as the Attorney for the Child (AFC), A good AFC will see through this.
- Never ask your child what they told their attorney. Like you, they should be able to have a confidential relationship with their attorney.
- Consult with your attorney before speaking with ACS, Probation, a Forensic Examiner, a Psychologist, or the Attorney for your child. Do not try to manipulate the result by calling ACS with frivolous allegations.
- Compromise! Two parents in a custody dispute never get everything they want. A mediated or negotiated resolution will usually be better for everyone rather than traditional litigation.
- Remember-There is life after a custody dispute. You are your child’s parent for life.
Other Helpful Practices in Custody and Visitation Cases
In addition to the “Ten Commandments”, getting additional help for your children can also be beneficial in managing the emotional toll of custody cases. A family counselor can help your child express their feelings and thoughts through talk therapy, play therapy, and other methods. Your children can talk to a therapist in a safe environment to express their emotions and conflicting feelings. They can also work out the best way to communicate what they want to say.
Ultimately, the main goal is to get through the divorce process and find a new path to happiness. If you can find a way for you and your ex to communicate civilly and productively with one another, you will be happier in the end. Your ex will always be part of your and your child’s life, whether you like it or not. It is better for all parties – for you, your ex-partner, and your children – to learn how to effectively communicate. If you think communication cannot be easily established between you and your ex, seeking the assistance of a family counselor or an experienced mediator can help.
In a custody dispute, it is important to keep in mind that the highest priority should be to have the least amount of disruptions in your child’s life. Working actively with your ex can help in ensuring that your child can move past the difficulties of the divorce process as easily as possible.