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Do not make your child a pawn in child custody disputes

When courts in Gig Harbor make child custody decisions, the standard they use is the best interests of the child. However, while the courts may look at things objectively, parents, in a heated divorce, often cannot agree on what are actually in the child's best interests of their child. And, in the worst of circumstances, parents will not do what is in the child's best interests.

Courts may award parents joint custody in child custody situations, where it is feasible and in the child's best interests. Factual evidence exists that having a relationship with both parents benefits the child more than if the child has a relationship with only one parent. Therefore, even if one party is given primary custody of the child, the other party will be granted visitation or other parental rights to foster a positive parent-child relationship.

Unfortunately, parents may try to use their child as a pawn to spite their ex. For example, after a parent's visitation period is up, he or she may return the child to the other parent later than what was agreed upon, knowing it will upset his or her ex. Or, the opposite can be true, in which the parent with primary custody drops the child off late to the other parent's visitation time, in violation of their visitation agreement. Unfortunately, when two parents act this way towards each other, it is the child who is negatively affected.

Sometimes, when two parents have such a toxic relationship with one another, even after their divorce or break-up is final, seeking outside professional help is appropriate. For example, an attorney can not only provide objective advice about the law, but also can represent his or her client in court to enforce an order, if necessary. Doctors, therapists and other professionals can also help.

In the end, it can help to look at the big picture. A successful child custody situation is one that puts the child's needs first and one that allows the parents to at least develop a working, if not cordial, relationship. If parents can put their animosity aside, and focus on their child, it will benefit both them and their child.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Understanding Child Custody Disputes With Help From National Family Solutions," Mike Wood, Oct. 6, 2016

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