For many couples facing divorce, child custody is one of the biggest disagreements. Both parents likely want to spend as much time as possible with the kids. In some cases, parents see the possibility of winning custody as a way of beating their ex in divorce. They will throw everything they have into “winning” the custody proceedings.

Unfortunately, both approaches can prove damaging for the children and could even hurt your chances at a positive outcome. Ideally, you and your ex will put aside your emotions toward one another and focus as much as possible on your children. That means putting a lot of effort into developing a healthy co-parenting relationship that is positive instead of acrimonious.

Pennsylvania looks at the best interests of the children

Typically speaking, the judge that you face in family court is going to worry more about the needs of your children than what you and your ex want from the divorce. The courts recognize that supporting healthy relationships with both parents is the best practice.

If the courts witness you intentionally sabotaging your ex’s relationship with the children by talking about him or her negatively or refusing visitation rights, that could impact the outcome of the divorce. After all, the courts will seek to ensure that the children are placed with someone who puts the needs of the children above his or her own needs.

While it may not be easy to put your feelings aside and interact with your ex on a regular basis during custody exchanges, that is the ideal toward which you should strive. Over time, you will rebuild a relationship that centers around your children. Once that happens, you will find it is easier for you to present a united front as parents and maintain consistent parenting expectations and rules for your kids. That will benefit the children, as well as both parents in the long run.

Don’t put your children in the middle of your arguments

Regardless of how contentious your divorce becomes, your kids don’t need to know the details. If your ex isn’t paying child support, the kids don’t need to know that. If you can’t see one another without getting into a fight, the children shouldn’t see those arguments. You may need to arrange to have someone else present to facilitate custody exchanges so that things don’t escalate.

Whatever you do, do not drag the children into your disagreements. The children should not have to serve as messengers between parents or need to choose between which parent they want to support. Instead, the children should feel like they are receiving support from both parents and have opportunity to spend time with both, regardless of the complications from your divorce.

Ideally, you and your ex can set aside your emotions and focus on making your divorce as simple for the children as possible. Collaborative divorce, uncontested divorce or mediation could all be options for reducing strain on your children.