Concept of the Month -- June 2009

Identifying Thinking Errors in Child Custody Cases

Previous concepts of the month have focused on errors of thinking that offenders/victimizers make. However, in some adversarial child custody cases, these same errors in thinking are present.

For example, both parents will claim to want whatever is in the "best interest" of the child. However, their behavior toward each other clearly puts the child in the middle as he becomes a pawn during their battle to control each other. The parents' objective becomes "winning" at any cost. Their offspring are in the crosshair of what may become a ruthless battle to defeat each other. The emotional price their sons and daughters pay is often steep.

The parents may see "winning" as a referendum on their own self-worth. Child custody becomes a trophy. Each warring parent builds himself up by putting down the other. These parents are quick to dish out offensive comments but become enraged when an insult is directed at them.

Conscience may be shut off as the parents unscrupulously use any means to achieve their ends. They may pride themselves as moral, law-abiding citizens. But they are anything but moral as they commit unconscionable acts in their attempt to prevail as the parent deserving custody of the child. They force their children into a position of having to choose when all these boys and girls desire is to have a good relationship with both of them.

Parents locked in such struggles fail to put themselves in the place of each other and fail to consider the needs of the children. Everything centers around them and what they want, not what will benefit their offspring.

Unfortunately, some of these wars never end. Even after the ink is dry on the final custody order, these parents are unrelenting. They periodically take each other to court continuing to wage what is a perpetual battle to destroy their spouse who then becomes their ex-spouse. Even if they remarry, the battle continues.

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