Child custody disputes are terribly frustrating for everyone involved, and that is not likely to differ from state to state. There are a number of forces at work that make custody disputes trying. On the one hand, most issues surrounding custody of children happens when the parties are communicating one-on-one, which often results in there being no documented evidence of the conversation. This opens up the possibility that a parent might fabricate the contents of the conversation, as well as the possibility that, even if everyone recalls the conversation exactly as it occurred, there will be different interpretations of the conversation by the parties. This can lead the parties to come to mistrust the other party and, given the highly emotional atmosphere, to attribute malicious motives to the other party.
When it comes to seeking court intervention, parties continue to be frustrated because a court often will not give either party everything that they request. This is the result of a couple of considerations: (1) the court, even on its best day, cannot be as familiar with your family and the incidents leading to requesting court intervention, and (2) the court views parental rights as sacred and is very slow to begin to curtail the rights of a parent to have custody of his or her child. This frustration is compounded by the emotionally charged situation, where a parent is so emotionally invested in the matter that it is difficult to see other points of view.
Parties sometimes have very real concerns for the safety and wellbeing of their child when the child is in the care of the other parent. Many times, it is hard for a parent to see that these concerns stem primarily from a difference in parenting styles rather than something that actually threatens the child. This also can be a source of frustration when a judge might not view the matter with the same sense of urgency that a parent does.
For these reasons, custody matters are most effectively resolved by parties arriving at their own solutions for problems rather than asking a judge, who is inherently less informed about your family than a child’s parents are, to make the decisions. Many parents do very well with a co-parenting counselor who can help them work through issues of safety and wellbeing for the child, and conflict resolution for the parents.
By: John M. Schaffranek, Esquire