There are few in California or elsewhere who have not experienced how devastating a divorce can be, whether it is their own breakup, another family member's or a friend's divorce. You may have watched your own parents divorce and lived through the struggle of a custody battle that left you confused and hurt. Your family may also have experienced financial hardship after the divorce.
It does not have to be that way, and more courts are working to provide a gentler and more positive approach to custody issues when parents break up. You certainly know that child support payments are often an essential part of ensuring that children have a healthy and secure life. However, more research is showing that it is time, not money, that makes the most critical difference for the children of divorce.
What works best for kids?
Researchers have shown that when fathers, along with mothers, hold and bond with their premature babies, those children's brains develop faster, and they tend to go home from the hospital sooner. This is only one report that confirms the importance of children having both parents in their lives as much as possible. If you are going through a divorce, you may not want to deal with your ex. However, it may be crucial that your children have adequate access to both parents in the following areas:
- Quality time: Equal time with each parent includes the fact that neither you nor your ex should be constantly tired, preoccupied or stressed when your children are around. It also means neither parent should provide only fun and games without structure.
- Distance: Studies say that children suffer when their parents live farther than a 20-minute drive from each other. Remember that the distance your children must travel between houses is time they are not spending interacting with you, your ex or other important people in their lives.
- Respect: No matter how you feel about your ex, your children should not experience your negativity toward each other, whether it is bad-mouthing, body language or your tone of voice.
- Teamwork: If one parent carries the bulk of the parenting responsibility, the other parent may eventually fade from a child's life. It is healthier for your child if you and your ex can find ways to work together to make parenting decisions.
As you work through the issues in your divorce, you will want to keep in mind the best interests of your child when it comes to custody issues. Nevertheless, you have rights, too. Balancing those rights with the wellbeing of your child is often tricky, and the skill of a compassionate attorney can prove invaluable.