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Does Parental Conflict in a Divorce or Custody Case Hurt Your Children?

In a divorce with contested issues, it’s common for parents to have negative feelings towards each other. These feelings may relate to what caused the divorce or may be the result of negative interactions that occur during the divorce proceeding, which in turn can lead to increased conflict. While such negative feelings and conflicts are understandable, they may have a significant negative impact on children and can lead to ongoing behavioral issues if allowed to continue.

Studies have shown that parental conflict during a divorce or custody case causes children to experience fear, anxiety, sadness, aggressiveness and other emotional reactions. Because these emotions are often difficult for children to articulate and process, they can be displaced into non-compliant behavior and hostility or internalized as depression, shame and guilt. Often these negative feelings result from a decreased amount and quality of parenting. Parents who are involved in disputes with each other may have less time and energy to devote attention to their children, may displace their own negative emotions and may be inconsistent in their parenting. Their behaviors also can make them poor role models for their children’s development of social skills and ability to deal with adversity.

It is advisable for parents to do their best to avoid exposing their children to conflicts before and during the divorce or custody case, which is in itself a stressful and challenging process. If you are in this situation, you should have support systems in place to help you navigate the difficulties you face and brainstorm ways to avoid further conflict. This may include turning to trusted adults and friends or seeking out a therapist or counselor. You may also consider co-parenting counseling to learn how to minimize conflict and to help your children cope.

An experienced domestic or family law attorney can also serve as a supportive resource throughout the court process, managing the communication with your former partner and their attorney so as to minimize opportunities for conflict to arise. An attorney can also be helpful in negotiating issues about which you and your partner may be in conflict — such as division of property or a parenting plan — and to work out creative solutions. Reducing the legal conflicts in the case will generally ease the tensions that affect the children.

At the Law Office of Bonnie E. Saltzman, LLC in south Denver, Colorado, we can advise you on how to navigate the complexities of divorce while minimizing the impact on your children. Please call 720-388-1565 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.