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Considering children's best interests in PA child custody battles

Anywhere in the country, including Pennsylvania, the legal process of divorce can move quickly, if a couple has little in property or assets or if no children are involved. The presence of minor children, though, means the parents will need to discuss child custody and visitation rights, both which can prolong the divorce process. Unfortunately, this too often means both parents arguing over who will make the better custodial parent, and who will only get weekends with the kids. Before engaging in such pitched battle in which children become pawns, parents should consider the following when it comes to making sound decisions about their children's custody arrangements.

First, divorcing parents should ask themselves whether they want their children to suffer the anxiety and uncertainty of moving from one house to another house haphazardly or whenever conflicts upset schedules. Parents should also ask whether they want their children to be questioned by a variety of strangers, court personnel, mental health professionals and attorneys, to determine which parent will best meet their needs as they grow. Perhaps one of the most profound consequences of divorces with lots of conflict is that it leaves children with lasting psychological harm. Finally, parents should consider whether they want a family law judge to decide on child-custody arrangements, instead of them.

Parents who consider these points might be more inclined to seek alternative ways of talking about child custody and arriving at constructive and mutually beneficial arrangements. Collaborative law or mediation is an approach that can more easily satisfy both parties.

Alternative methods offer parents a better chance of becoming effective co-parents and continuing on as a family, even though the parents are divorced. In the end, children benefit most from custody arrangements that prioritize their best interests, rather than the needs of their parents.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Divorcing parents: 10 questions to ask before fighting over the kids," Rosalind Sedacca, July 21, 2014

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