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Child Custody

Top 10 Special Issues to Consider in Child Custody Decisions

  1. BLENDED (STEP) FAMILIES. Coordination between households can be difficult, and it is important for all of the parents to consider the best interests of each child. There will likely be an element of “what’s best for the greatest number of children”, as it is impossible to accommodate each and every need of each child all the time. Also, instilling respect for all the parents in each of the children is important, as children will often mimic behaviors they observe.
  2. ABSENT PARENT REUNIFICATION. When one parent has been absent from a child’s life for an extended period of time, parents should consider participating in reunification therapy. This will help each parent and the child work through any issues and emotions that arise. It is important that the child build back trust with the parent who was absent.
  3. HIGH CONFLICT. Oftentimes Judges will appoint Parent Coordinators in high-conflict child custody cases to assist the parents with poor communication, decision-making, and keeping their focus on the children’s needs as opposed to their own personal issues with one another.
  4. MILITARY. For families with one or both parents in the military, visitation and decision-making can be made nearly (if not altogether) impossible when a parent is deployed. Visitation can also be hampered when parents live far away from one another. Parents should consider how parenting time can be rearranged in times of temporary duty assignments or overseas commitments.
  5. FAMILIES WITH CHILDREN OF VASTLY DIFFERENT AGES. When there is a wide age difference between siblings, individual time with each child should be considered in developing the parenting schedule.
  6. SPECIAL NEEDS CHILDREN. Both mental and physical impairments by children should be understood by both parents so that the child is well-served in both homes. When both parents are on the same page about attending doctor appointments for the child (when appropriate), and following the treatment plan, the child will have the best opportunity to thrive.
  7. THIRD-PARTY INVOLVEMENT. Whether it is a new significant other, a caretaker, a grandparent, or some other third party, their involvement in the children’s lives must be taken into consideration when making decision about child custody. Whether these people have positive or negative impacts on the child has to be at the forefront of decisions relating to children.
  8. BREASTFEEDING. The balance between the Father’s need to bond with a breastfeeding infant and the Mother having to be physically present leads to many conflicts between separated parents. Ultimately the child’s health and well-being has to be the main consideration when determining what time the Father will be able to spend with the baby, and the pediatrician and lactation consultants should be considered excellent sources of insight for this decision.
  9. CHILDREN WHO DON’T WANT TO SPEND TIME WITH A PARENT. Teenage rebellion and toddler tantrums may be short-term causes for children not wanting to spend time with a parent. Longer-term causes, such as abuse, should not be ignored when deciding which parent a child should spend time with.
  10. SAFETY. Day to day safety measures, like requiring seat belts and bike helmets, are just a part of the picture when it comes to children’s safety. More serious issues like alcohol abuse, domestic violence, or mental health issues should also be scrutinized in all child custody matters.
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