Divorce is tough. It's tough on you, and it is tough on your children. You already are ending your legal connection to your former spouse. Add children into the mix, along with the challenge of negotiating appropriate custody scenarios, and the stress levels rise exponentially.
What if your child wants to live with your former spouse after a divorce?
Children choose favorites all the time and for any number of reasons, even when their parents are not getting divorced.
Are you the parent who bought that PlayStation? ("You're the best! I want to live with you forever!")
Or are you the one who grounded your young rule-breaker for a month – no phone, no devices, no fun? ("You're the worst! I'm glad you're divorced, so I don't have to see you every day!")
Parenting is tough. But parenting one's children through a divorce is tougher. No one wants to feel like their child is rejecting them. But when you are not in the middle of a divorce, you likely live in the same home and are there to tuck them in at night – even when you’ve grounded them. Not so in a divorce when feelings can intensify.
So, what can you do when your child decides they’d prefer to live with their other parent and not you? What are your options if your child says he or she wants to live with the other parent?
Legally, children in a custody dispute do not have the absolute right to determine which parent they want to live with, particularly if they are very young. However, as children grow older, courts will give increasing weight to their wishes. Regardless of the age of the child, the court will try to determine which custody arrangement will be in the child’s best interests. In every instance, the court always applies the “best interests” test in making custody decisions.
In custody trials, the judge will be considering whether both, one, or neither of the parents has the psychological attributes they need to function effectively as parents. If both parties fight constantly, involve children in their disputes, or try to weaken the other parent's connection to their child, the judge may intervene and make a custodial decision that upholds the child's best interests.
Can both of us parents lose custody during the divorce?
The short answer is, "Yes, it happens." But better to ask yourself, "What can I do to better this divorce/custody process and minimize the impact on my children?
Cooperate for your children during a divorce process
Conventional wisdom says that how unhappy or happy children of divorce can be is directly attributable to how well or how poorly their parents cooperate between themselves. Effective co-parenting may save you the worry of losing custody of, access to, or the affections of your child.
Navigating these kinds of issues can be tricky. If you have questions about parental rights, divorce, separation, custody, child support, alimony, and property division, let's talk. I'm Dan Stock and you can reach me at 475-232-4105 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for a confidential consultation.