Written by Wolfgang R. Anderson
Attorney at Law
Anderson, Fields, Dermody & McIlwain
No matter how abrasive or traumatic a relationship, or how bitter the parties feel vis-à-vis one another, children should not be made a part of a party’s acrimony and ire. Generally speaking, children should be encouraged to have a healthy outlook toward both parents and should be advised to visit liberally and foster harmony.
If possible, parties should attempt to agree on common curfews, rules, presents and guidelines.
Residential arrangements should be effectuated by providing both parties and the children optimal time with each other, unless abuse, apathy, neglect, alcohol or drug dependency adversely affects a relationship. Neither party should be relegated to the position of an aunt or an uncle. Children should not be allowed to play one parent against the other, which often happens when children are in their teens. Spouses should realize that parenting is for the benefit of their children and not a tool to get even. A child should not be made a litigant’s soldier.
Although children may wish to live with one or the other parent, a sound reason must backup their request. It is helpful if the opinion of a trained mental health professional is sought.
Distress may be caused when a child wishes to live with a particular parent who is unable to reciprocate or unable to handle what is demanded of them due to lack of living arrangement, time or negative behavior.
Bad past behavioral patterns such as alcoholism, drug addiction, or criminal activity too often come into play.