Going through a divorce with children can result in unique issues for any divorcing couple. One of the most common divorce disputes involves custody of the minor children. Even when a divorcing couple is on the same page with respect to custody arrangements, their children may express their own preferences as to where they want to live. This can be a challenging situation for all parties. When responding to a child’s request to live with the other parent, it is important to keep a few key points in mind.
Consider the Best Interests of All Children
Often one child’s request to live with the other parent affects the living situation of the couple’s other children. Splitting up siblings with different custodial arrangements can have a negative impact on the entire family as siblings often provide crucial emotional support to each other during these difficult times. This can be especially true in cases involving remarriage and mixed families where living with a sibling can ease the transition.
Keep Children Out of Ongoing Divorce Proceedings
Children should never be made to feel that they must choose sides during a divorce. To avoid any conflicts of loyalty, children should be protected from having to decide on their own where they should live. By establishing set custody and visitation schedules, a child often can be insulated from the divorce process. It is best to avoid situations that may lead to an interference with another parent’s desire to maintain an ongoing relationship with the child.
Remember the Maturity Level of the Child
While there are certain children who are mature enough to provide input as to where they should reside, this is often not the case. The maturity level of the child should always guide the divorcing couples’ decision as to whether the child should be involved in deciding where they will live.
Present a United Front
The best course of action in presenting custodial changes is for both parents to communicate together and directly with their children. When children see a united front with respect to parenting decisions that involve issues such as living arrangements, children are more likely to maintain trust in both parents. When children see parents working together and respectfully communicating any changes, it can provide much needed consistency during this time of unrest.
Involve Experienced Professionals
When parents cannot come to an agreement on how to handle a child’s request to change the custody arrangement, it may be time to bring in a professional. Family counselors, mediators, and divorce lawyers often provide crucial guidance for families dealing with these unique issues.
If you have filed for divorce in New Jersey and are struggling to resolve child custody, child support, spousal support, or other divorce related issues we are here to help. Call us today at 856-751-5505 to schedule your free initial consultation or contact us online. From our offices in Marlton and Somers Point, New Jersey, we assist clients throughout South Jersey, including those in Atlantic County, Burlington County, and Camden County.