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Child Custody – Putting Your Children First

Key questions to ask before you make crucial custody decisions for your children

by Rosalind Sedacca, CCT  |  3294 views  |  7 comments  |        Rate this now! 

A recent article I read in a Florida newspaper talks about proposed changes to child custody legislation. An investigative committee is being formed to consider whether “shared parenting may be the best custodial situation for all children of divorcing parents.”

While I am a strong advocate of shared parenting – it worked very successfully for me – I do not believe it’s the right or only answer for everyone. Because every situation is different when it comes to divorce, I certainly don’t believe legislation should be determining custody outcomes for any family. These are issues that caring, conscious parents should be deciding together with only one goal in mind – the very best interest of their children.

Unfortunately, too many parents approach this issue as adversaries. When child custody becomes a battle, everyone loses. Parents are pitted against each other and innocent children inevitably pay the price.

When custodial decisions move into contention, creating a scenario where lawyers, legislation and courts determine the direction of your children’s future, you not only lose power in your life, you lose harmony within your already fragile family structure.

There is another way. When you create a child-centered divorce, your children win – on every level. Parents who make a concerted effort to sit down with each other and discuss the future well-being of their kids together, keep their perspective where it really belongs – on the children. To do this, they must take into account and ask themselves some very serious questions:

  • What’s best for our children today, tomorrow and in the years to come?
  • How can we minimize the physical, emotional and spiritual damage inflicted upon our children as a result of our pending divorce?
  • How can we best support our children through this difficult time?

    How can we show your love and compassion for them as they move through challenges they did not ask for -- or create?

  • What can we do to boost their sense of security, self-esteem and well-being during the transitions ahead?
  • Who can provide the least traumatic home environment for the children – and for what percent of each day, week, month and year?
  • How can each of us best contribute our assets – physical, emotional and spiritual – to create harmony, good will and peace within the changed family structure?
  • How will our children look back at this divorce a year, five years, ten years and more from now? Will they understand?
  • How can we make life better for our children after the divorce than it was before?

The answers to these questions are not simple, nor are they lack and white. They require honest communication between two mature adults who have their children’s best interest at heart. And yes, it may likely take more than the two of you to come to resolution on all the child-custody details. That’s where you can enlist the aid of professionals -- mediators, therapists, counselors, life coaches and clergy. These experienced and knowledgeable experts will approach your divorce from a child-focused perspective. They have the tools and insight to help you reach agreement on issues that will affect the total well-being of your children in the least-derisive manner.

About the Author

Rosalind Sedacca, Certified Corporate Trainer and relationship seminar facilitator, is the author of the new ebook, How Do I Tell the Kids about the Divorce? A Create-a-Storybook Guide to Preparing Yo

Read more by Rosalind Sedacca, CCT

7 comments so far...

  • Yes, a professional and unbiased Guardian who has the children's best interest at heart is a valuable asset to any to creating and implementing a child-centered divorce. Let's encourage others to take advantage of this resource.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Rosalind Sedacca, CCT on 2nd December 2007

  • During my divorce there was a lengthy custody battle. The judge very quickly assigned a guardian to the children and that person was charged with interviewing a lot of people in our lives, including us and the children, to determine the best custody arrangement for our situation. I absolutely believe that the right decisions were made based on the recommendations of the guardian to the court. If I had to do it all over again I absolutely would. The guardian was fair, unbiased and 100% focused on doing what was best for the kids. Every single child in a divorce situation should have the benefit of a guardian.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by KathyHowe on 2nd December 2007

  • I like MaryP's suggestion and agree that we should all strive to share parenting whenever possible. It was quite successful for me. In fact, my son (now grown) wrote the introduction to my new book, How Do I Tell the Kids about the Divorce? and discusses his emotional reaction at the time.
    It takes maturity to create what I call a child-centered divorce, but the rewards are significant and life-long for your children!

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Rosalind Sedacca, CCT on 29th November 2007

  • (Why have all the comments on this thread been "REPORTED"?)

    I wonder if there's a middle position? How about not *mandating* shared parenting, exactly, but making it the default position? Thus, parenting would be shared except in such instances where it can be proven this is not in the childrens' best interests. Really, I can only think of a few examples (abuse being the most obvious, but there are a couple others) where it is NOT in the kids' best interest to have access to both parents.

    Counselling is not mandatory here in Ontario (Canada), which is a pity.

    For the record, my ex and I did not have an easy divorce, and we are not particularly amicable now, though overt conflict is long in the past. So I don't say this just because I had a smooth and civil experience with my ex. I did not. But just because I have a poor opinion of him does not mean that the children don't have a right to a relationship with him.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by MaryP on 29th November 2007

  • Yes, manditory parenting classes are a help. I agree that shared custody requires decent rapport between spouses. That's a plus for everyone in the family, especially the children. That's the focus of my child-centered divorce movement. Learn more at www.childcentereddivorce.comnnBest regards,

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Rosalind Sedacca, CCT on 29th November 2007

  • Tennessee also requires a parenting course for divorcing couples with minor children (or did six years ago, anyway). But my son was 17 when his father and I divorced, so custody issues didn't loom large.

    My new husband and his ex-wife have shared custody, and it's been challenging at times, but the kids seem to do well with it. It does require the parents to treat each other decently in order to work, and that's got to be in the kids' interest.

    However, as you note, there are situations where this wouldn't be best for anyone, and therefore I don't think mandating shared parenting in all cases is a good idea.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Florinda Pendley Vasquez on 28th November 2007

  • Ideally in a divorce in addition to the wife's attorney,the husband's attorney, there should also be a children's attorney. Ultimately, the court's job is determine what is in the best interest of the child. However, often the husband and wife are preoccupied with their own positions/needs/emotional issues etc. that there is no one in a position to argue for the child's needs and rights.

    The State of Massachusetts requires a parenting course for couples divorcing with minor children. I would love to see this expanded to mandatory mediation/workshops where there are professionals helping the parents to separate their desires from what is in the best interest of their child.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Chris Sheridan on 28th November 2007