Many parents who contest a court’s custody ruling, or who engage in long and protracted proceedings to establish custody and visitation arrangement will tell you that they are doing it “for the benefit of the children.” There are certainly instances where one parent must do whatever is necessary to ensure a safe outcome for children—if there’s domestic violence, alcohol or drug abuse, for example. In most cases, though, their actions are ultimately counterproductive, draining precious resources that could be better spent on the children or on improving their lives.
Here are the most frequent consequences of an unnecessary custody battle:
- One or both parties spend money they can’t afford to spend—It may be money that would be used to buy clothes and food, to live in a better house, or to fund a child’s college education. Attorney’s fees can be substantial, even if the skirmish is short-lived.
- The tension and conflict between the parties increases—When you are on opposite sides of an argument, it’s hard to find ways to agree…which is often in the best interests of your children. Not only will it have an impact on your health—medical professionals have long known that stress and anxiety are bad for you—but your kids will be well aware of what’s going on and will feel in the middle (or even to blame).
- Co-parenting becomes difficult or impossible—Even if the issues you need to resolve involve only your children, it will be hard not to inject some of your dispute or animosity with your ex into the process. In the aftermath of divorce, your children need stability and consistency—a custody battle makes those objectives difficult to attain.
- Your children will suffer—If you and your ex are taking side, your children will feel compelled to as well. They love both of you, so they’ll struggle to make both of you happy—an unattainable goal.