Whether you’re going through a divorce or a separation, the process of ending your relationship is probably going to be incredibly emotional for you and your spouse. But if you have children together, it’s important to know that the process can be just as difficult for them too.
As you can imagine, events like divorce cause a huge upheaval, changing things like where the child calls home and which parent they primarily look to when making huge life decisions. The upheaval caused by divorce or separations can cause considerable emotion, which can be difficult to handle, especially among teens who are already struggling to find their own identity.
It’s for these and other reasons that some psychologists suggest that divorcing or separating parents discuss possible custody arrangements with their children before making a request in front of a judge. By asking the child their preferences for living arrangements and even a suitable visitation schedule, parents are letting their child feel like they are in control of something during a tumultuous time. In addition to that, it shows the court that parents are truly considering what is in their child’s best interests.
Though asking for your child’s input can be incredibly helpful, especially if an amicable resolution is desired, it’s important to take the child’s age consideration before basing a custody request on the wishes of your child. A teenager with considerably more going on in their life may have more stake in a custody agreement than a younger child who has the flexibility to move between homes. It’s also important to note that the courts may not take a child’s wishes into consideration if they are under a certain age.
Source: Psychology Today, “Divorced Parents: Kids Should Decide Where They Live/Custody,” Seth Meyers Psy.D., Nov. 2, 2012