Custody disputes in Florida are stressful for everyone involved. They often cost both parents a lot of money and usually take a long time to resolve.
Additionally, when parents cannot agree on a custody arrangement, a court must decide. Although you may think that the court will obviously see everything your way, both you and your co-parent will likely walk away unhappy when you let a court decide when and how you will see your children.
One of the reasons that custody disputes can quickly become conflict-filled is that parents overlook who the dispute affects the most, and that is the children.
Your children pay the price
Children learn their behavior from their parents and children of divorce are more likely to divorce themselves when they are adults. This means that if your children see you and your co-parent constantly fighting about custody or divorce matters, they are going to assume acting that way is the appropriate way to solve problems.
The custody process generally involves many negative emotions on the part of both parents that are difficult to work through. These feelings are understandable. After all, you are going to be seeing your children less and you are probably naturally upset about that.
However, these emotions can cloud your judgment and cause you to act in ways that are detrimental to your children.
Keep your children out of custody disputes
You should never have arguments about custody in front of your children or talk to them about child custody topics. Have these conversations in private with your co-parent and never put your children in the middle.
It is easy to get stuck on what you want in terms of custody and refuse to budge or compromise. Many times, parents believe that they should have full or primary custody, while the other parent should only receive partial custody or visitation.
While you might legitimately believe that your children are better off with you, Florida, like most states, uses a best interest of the child standard when making child custody decisions.
Florida courts favor frequent contact with each parent
When deciding what custody schedule is in the best interest of children, a court examines and weighs several different factors. One of these is the ability of each parent to have frequent and continuing contact with the children.
The best way to do this is usually through a shared or “50-50” custody schedule, which allows each parent to spend approximately the same amount of time with the children.
Think long-term about your co-parenting relationship
It is important to remember that how you resolve your initial custody dispute will impact your ultimate co-parenting relationship. Once your custody dispute is over, you and your co-parent still have children to raise.
If there are bitter feelings left over from the custody dispute, continuing to co-parent for months or years to come will likely always be a challenge.
A high-conflict custody dispute will also have a major effect on your children. They may develop behavioral or other types of issues that require counseling or therapy due to your actions.
There are alternatives to custody litigation that are available today, such as mediation. Resolving your custody dispute through mediation is usually quicker and cheaper than fighting in a courtroom. It can also increase your chance of amicably resolving your dispute, which is better for your children.