Divorce negotiations in states with community property laws like California can get highly antagonistic. In many cases, disputes over alimony or asset division have to be settled in court. However, bitter child custody battles have become less frequent as an increasing amount of evidence highlights the benefits of co-parenting arrangements. Furthermore, many parents recognize the emotional damage that prolonged legal actions can have on young children.
Research suggests that co-parenting arrangements work best because they provide both parents and their children with consistent expectations to meet and rules to follow. A cooperative environment encourages open communication and makes it more difficult for children to be manipulative. Family law judges generally favor these arrangements when they are called upon to settle visitation and custody matters.
However, there are a number of major pitfalls that divorced parents should avoid. Chief among these traps is pulling children into domestic quarrels to relay messages or act as sounding boards for animosities. Experts say that children of divorces may develop emotional problems later in life due to the behavior exhibited by their parents. Parents who cooperate teach their children about the importance of commitment and meeting responsibilities. On the other hand, parents who argue in front of their children or use them to gain an emotional advantage set a poor example.
Attorneys with experience of child custody disputes may suggest that parents agree to a set of written rules before finalizing their co-parenting arrangements. Parenting rules should establish clear boundaries and the consequences of crossing them, but they should not be so restrictive that parents feel confined and search for loopholes.