SURVIVING YOUR CUSTODY BATTLE
Custody battles kill people!
Those who have been through a painful custody case appreciate why these battles are associated with high rates of both suicide and homicide. Family court judges often live in fear of their lives, as dissatisfied parents regularly blame them for tearing their family apart. More often though, a bad custody case leads to self-harm, particularly in the case of men, who, both in Texas and around the country, tend to be the ones who feel victimized by the family court system.
The best remedy for this stress, of course, is to avoid going to court altogether. Do your best to reach a suitable arrangement with your former partner without bringing in legal intermediaries. Either way though, while your number one priority needs to be finding a custody arrangement that is in the best interests of your child, your number two priority must be to handle the stress of the custody arrangements without passing that stress on to your child.
Avoid allowing your child to participate in any of your emotional struggles that are connected with your divorce. This is particularly damaging where a child is allowed to feel responsible for the breakdown, or when one parent constantly plays the role of the "victim", leaving the child feeling that they need to do something to remedy the situation!
Remember your child loves you both and it is not their fault that your relationship did not work. They did not cause your relationship breakdown and they cannot heal it. You must take the responsibility for this yourself, and if you need support (as we all do) you need to find it from peers - siblings, parents or friends - and not from your children.
The simple rule is this: do not talk to your children about your child custody case. If they ask you how it is going, assure them that both mom and dad are both doing their best to agree on an arrangement that is best for them (the child) and leave it at that. If your child pursues the issue, it can be very difficult to avoid going into details, but you must do your best to avoid sharing frustration and bitterness with your children, as you do not want your pain to become their pain.
A professional family counsellor can be a valuable asset in these circumstances, for both parents and children. In some cases, it may even be possible (and very valuable) for a trained counsellor to mediate discussion between a child and both estranged parents. Do not attempt this though on your own. The dynamics of such a dialogue can be very difficult to control, and the stakes are just far too high if things go wrong.
Custody rights cases are painful for everybody - children, parents and society at large - and there is only ever one good reason for entering into a custody battle in the first place: you are concerned for best interests of your children. If then you really are seeking the best interests of your children, be assured that it will never be in their best interests to embroil them in the pain of the custody battle.