Few things are as stressful as a custody dispute and the grief that comes with the breakdown of a family system. Not only can a custody dispute take a toll on you and your children’s mental health, but going through a child custody case can mean major changes in lifestyle. If you and your family are facing this substantial change, it’s a good idea to consider calling a therapist to help you and your co-parent to navigate the child custody process.
Regardless of how you and your former partner feel about each other, it’s in any child’s best interest that both parents are working toward a parenting plan that makes the child’s needs a priority. A therapist can help parents manage feelings, work together, and accept outcomes of things like child support and child custody modifications. If you’re in the middle of a child custody battle, here are three ways a therapist can help your family today.
1. Managing Feelings
Change is hard, and that’s true whether it’s adolescents or adults experiencing the shift. Whether you are happy with your current child custody arrangement or not, it’s normal to struggle with relationship issues, anger, grief, and a myriad of feelings that come up at times of significant change. A family therapist can work with you and your family to offer group and individual counseling to help you learn to cope with feelings around your specific situation.
Many people hesitate to get counseling during a child custody battle because they are so busy with getting legal advice and working with courts to determine the best interest of the children. However, in getting help for yourself as you work through custody arrangements, you’ll be in a better position to make decisions in you and your child’s best interest. That is, with a clear head and a safe place to vent frustrations about your situation, you’ll be better equipped to navigate decisions that will impact your child’s life forever.
Finding a family therapist with experience in child custody cases is as easy as a Google search for your location. If you lived in Washington, DC, for example, a Google search for ‘DC therapist‘ would bring up listings of licensed and registered family therapists with years of experience helping families. These therapists can work with you online or in-person, and often help when it comes to communicating with co-parents about visitation schedules and more.
2. Strengthening Relationships
Like it or not, you and your co-parent will be in each other’s lives for the long haul. Unless domestic violence was a cause for your separation, it’s likely you’ll be seeing each other as time goes on and milestones for your child arise. A family member through your child, a therapist will be able to give you tools to communicate with your former partner in positive ways. From helping you to come from a place of compassion to understanding your co-parent’s motives, a therapist can work with you to strengthen this life-long relationship in its new context.
One way a therapist will help is by reminding you of common ground you and your co-parent still share. Perhaps your teenage daughter is on a search for shirts for women for an upcoming first job interview. Maybe your ex has a good fashion sense and would be willing to go with you and your child on a shopping trip to support this milestone. Your counselor could work with you ahead of time to establish boundaries and a plan for a trip in your daughter’s best interest.
3. Accepting Outcomes
Many families spend years amending custody agreements based on their child’s needs. This can be a fantastic way to approach child custody as a child’s needs change. At the same time, because change is stressful, having a therapist to give you a little help as changes come is always a good idea. While it might make sense, for example, to change a teenager’s living arrangements, having the extra support from a trained family therapist is a good way to ensure you and your ex-partner are on the same page.
A good therapist will also help when it comes to accepting the outcomes of your child custody battle. There is no way to ensure that a judge or court will agree with your idea of what’s best for your child. This can be incredibly difficult for parents who find themselves in the position of working with a custody order they don’t agree with. A therapist will give you tools to make a custody order work better for you and your family, even when you don’t believe it’s ideal.
At the end of the day, a licensed therapist can help you and your co-parent come up with the best version possible for your new family setup. With the ability to help you and your child gain specific skills to accept child custody outcomes, these relationship experts will not only help give you peace of mind, but will make a big difference in your quality of life.