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Post-divorce “games” not in the best interests of the child

Post-divorce “games” not in the best interests of the child

Date: February 06, 2013

Illinois residents going through a divorce, or considering a divorce, are unfortunately likely to be all too familiar with raw negative emotions. Fights may be common and anger with each other the default position. Even in a highly contested split, however, divorcing spouses need to give particular consideration to how they manage their emotions and the ramifications of their actions on any custody and visitation agreement.

Bitter ex-spouses may try to play spiteful games with one another and, perhaps inadvertently, involve the children in their quarrels. When children come home from spending time with the other parent, for example, one may see this as an opportunity to learn eyewitness details of what is happening in the ex’s life and question the children about it. A divorced parent may vent negative feelings about the ex in front of the children, putting them in the awkward position of feeling like they have to choose sides.

Exes often play games like this to some extent, but it’s important to recognize that child custody and visitation arrangements are intended to promote a child’s mental health, happiness, safety and development. If a court has ruled that children should maintain relationships with both parents, parents will be better served in the long run by focusing on minimizing the stress and negative emotions around this arrangement for the children.

Divorced spouses may find some strategies helpful for achieving this, like learning to be in the same room together – which they will likely need to do at some point for school or extracurricular events. They may be able to discuss holiday and birthday gifts, planning together for the children’s big days rather than trying to outdo each other.

It’s also important that whatever visitation and custody schedule is in place is workable for each party, given work and other concerns. If an agreement needs modification, an attorney can help pursue this option.

Source: Huffington Post, “No More Ex Games,” Lois Tarter, Jan. 26, 2013

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