When deciding matters of custody the court will consider all factors to determine the best and safest situation for the child. The number one factor, as outlined in our previous blog post 16 Best Interest Custody Factors, is "which party is more likely to encourage and permit frequent and continuing contact between the child and another party."
Section 28:2 of West's Pennsylvania Practice: Pennsylvania Family Law Practice and Procedure states that, "the public policy of Pennsylvania is that the best interests of the children are served by permitting them to maintain a meaningful relationship with both parents, and as a consequence, contact between parent and child will be disallowed only in extreme situations where the parental contact would have severe adverse impact upon the child's welfare."
When parent's fight, it can ultimately impact their children, which is why co-parenting is mandatory for terms of custody. Your child could end up feeling unprotected, confused about their role identity in the family, and can also experience a loss of conflict-resolution skills. Parent's fighting could also lead to your child feeling unstable or abandoned, or even make them feel like they have to choose between one parent or the other. All of this can cause added stress on the child, decrease their level of happiness, or even lower their self-esteem.
Here are 10 ways to help stop the fighting and make your child feel more comfortable:
1. Allow your child to spend time with extended family members on both sides of the family.
2. Leave framed pictures out of your child with both sets of their grandparents or extended family members.
3. Mention positive qualities of members of your child's extended family. Find a way to value what they have to offer your child.
4. Recognize and comment on qualities that your child received from extended family members.
5. Encourage your child to remember the extended family member's birthdays, anniversaries, and other holidays with cards or phone calls.
6. Make sure your child responds appropriately when gifts are sent from the extended family.
7. If the extended family calls to speak to your child, and you answer the phone, attempt to say a few pleasant words. Remember, your child is listening.
8. Separate your negative feelings about your former spouse from your feelings for his/her family.
9. Do not assume that the extended family is speaking negatively about you.
10. Correct any inappropriate comments that you may have said with regard to the extended family.
Though co-parenting may seem difficult at first, remember it is very important for the well-being of your child. Channeling your mental and emotional strength will come a long way in easing the transition for your child, as well as for you and your former spouse. The most important thing is to ensure your child grows up in two happy homes.
For any questions, or a free consultation, please contact us at the Beroes Law Center.
Source: Boyan, Susan Blyth., and Ann Marie. Termini.Cooperative Parenting and Divorce. Active Parenting, 1999.