I believe that most parents genuinely want what is best for their children. Nine times out of ten that is the reason many believe they have to engage in a custody battle.
Unfortunately, by its very nature a struggle over child custody can be very harmful for a child.
The vast majority of my cases involve conflicts over custody and there are often very legitimate reasons for drawing a line in the sand. What if one parent cannot get the child to school on time? What if one parent has a drug or alcohol problem? What if one parent engages in corporal punishment? These are legitimate reasons for changing who the child lives with during the week, restricting contact with the minor child or even requiring supervised parenting time.
However, sometimes it becomes more a matter of pride and wanting to ensure that the majority of time that child is with Mom or Dad.
The effects of a prolonged battle over who gets more than 50% of the time with little Billy or Mary can be anything but helpful for that minor child. He or she will feel caught in the middle and that she has to choose. If the parents are unable to resolve the matter in mediation, that child will have to talk to a stranger about what he or she wants. That stranger could be a well meaning attorney appointed for them who encourages them to talk about what they like most about each parent or it could be a judge.
The child will feel that no matter what he or she says one parent will be mad at them. The child will feel way too much power and way too much responsiblity.
So, during a divorce or a break up between unmarried parents after we file our Petitions, my firm encourages and helps parents to reach a compromise through the court ordered or private mediation process. That will minimize or avoid the pressure children feel when they are caught in between.