Thursday, November 6, 2014

Questions to Ask Before a Custody Battle Over The Kids

By:  Carole L. Chiamp
I recently read an article about Larry Sarezky who is a divorce attorney.  He created a short film for parents who are in high-conflict custody fights.  Long before that, he created a list of questions for parents contemplating custody battles.  They are spot-on.  Having advocated for parents, mediated and arbitrated custody issues, I can say every parent should read the questions carefully.  I have litigated these types of cases many times and no one ends up a winner, especially not the children.

Larry Sarezky’s questions recently listed in the Huffington Post are:

1.    Do you want your children to endure months of anxiety and uncertainty as to where they will be living and whether they will have the relationship they want with each of their parents and their siblings?

2.    Do you want your children subjected to interviews by attorneys, mental health professionals and court personnel during which they may be frightened and conflicted, and will feel pressured to be loyal to both their parents?

3.    Do you want your children subjected to the possibility of inquiry by these professionals about the most personal aspects of their lives including their fears and frailties?

4.    Clinical studies have shown that high conflict between parents exposes children who witness it to serious psychological harm.  Do you want to risk your children developing emotional disorders as a result of your high-conflict custody battle?

5.    Do you want your inability to resolve your differences to serve as a model of parenting for your children?

6.    Do you want intimate details of your life to become a matter of public record?

7.    Do you want a stranger deciding how much you will see your children, and how you will make decisions concerning them?

8.    Do you want a substantial portion of your assets used for fees of attorneys and expert witnesses with no guarantee that you will be happy with the result?

9.    Do you want to give up attention to detail that a negotiated agreement will have but that a judge’s decision will not?

10.    Do you want to engage in costly, time-consuming and rancorous litigation that can make future cooperation between you and your co-parent extremely difficult at best, and the resumption of amicable joint parenting nearly impossible?

Questions like these should cause parents to want to avoid litigation.  Alternative dispute resolution is clearly a better solution.  If parents don’t think so, they need to keep looking for answers outside of the courtroom.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

In tip number four, it's extremely interesting that the conflict between parents can translate to your kids having serious psychological harm and issues. It's truly a dire situation to make an agreement even though you may not like your spouse to never fight in front of your children for everyone's benefit. Instead, make sure you talk it out, or fight if need-be, out of the site of your kids so they don't hear their parents fighting. What exactly does a judge look for when giving custody to a parent? Also, how does having joint custody affect the kid's psychological condition with going back and forth to each parent?