Matthew R. Arnold of Arnold & Smith, PLLC answers the question “What can I do to gain custody of my child in North Carolina?”
An organization of 6,500 divorce lawyers, mediators and therapists in England has released the results of a survey showing the effects of divorce on children, and the results have staggered even industry insiders who have long bemoaned the negative effects family separations have on young members.
The group’s director, Jo Edwards, told Yahoo Parenting that children suffer most when parents engage in angry fighting in front of them. Edwards said the effects of confrontations can be seen almost immediately, with poor test scores, the onset of eating disorders, and behavioral problems. In the long term, divorces can affect students’ performance on standardized tests, can cause children to experiment with drugs, and can affect the ability of children to develop healthy, rewarding relationships and friendships.
Edwards said that the key for parents who are going through a divorce is to not engage in conflict in the presence of children. Almost a third of children surveyed confirmed that one parent tried to turn the child against the other parent, in order to gain a leg up in the divorce proceedings. A quarter of children respondents told surveyors that one or both of their parents had tried to involve them in their marital disputes. Another quarter of respondents did not even know one or both of their parents had new romantic partners until they found out on social media.
The United Kingdom-based organization that conducted the survey—named Resolution—styles itself as promoting non-confrontational divorces and other family conflicts. The non-confrontational approach, the group believes, is a key to ensuring a divorce does not leave children with long-lasting scars.
Edwards—Resolution’s director—said that children too often end up caught in the hostility that is simmering between parents. This aggression—and the feeling of being tugged both ways by parents who may be resentful or disappointed with having to share custody—can lead children to believe they have done something wrong, when they are innocent.
Ken Neumann, a New York City-based child psychologist, said this feeling of having done something wrong can affect a child’s entire outlook, leading to low self-esteem, poor grades, the development of eating disorders, and drug use.
Edwards added that parents should approach divorce in a more civilized way, focusing on the good of the family instead of upon their own anger or upon what they want out of a divorce.
Neumann cautioned parents to never fight in front of their children, not even on the phone. And, he added, giving a child a choice doesn’t always mean a parent is empowering a child. To the child, being asked whether one would like to spend the weekend with an estranged spouse or with “mommy or daddy” may feel more like a trap than a choice. The child may not feel one has a choice at all—at least an honest one.
Neumann said it is okay for a parent to take charge and to make decisions, as long as decisions are made with an eye towards what is best for the family. The ability of parents to cooperate—even on tough decisions—makes a child feel safe Neumann said.
If you find yourself facing a complicated family law matter, then you need the help of experienced family law attorneys in Charlotte, North Carolina who can help guide you through the often confusing process of divorce. Please contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today at (704) 370-2828 or find additional resources here.
About the Author
Mr. Arnold was raised in Charlotte, where he graduated from Providence Senior High School. He attended Belmont Abbey College, where he graduated cum laude, before attending law school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on a full academic scholarship.
In his free time, Mr. Arnold enjoys golfing and spending time with his wife and three children.
Photo by D. Sharon Pruitt
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