If you and the other parent can`t agree on negotiating a custody plan, the family court decides for you. A judge will develop an order that will determine custody and visitation. Decisions are based on what the judge believes is in the best of your children. Geffner and Pagelow (1990) argue that shared custody and mediation often act against the best interests of the child in abusive relationships. Shared custody should not be recommended if there is a history of abuse and intimidation, as issues of power and control will persist. Shared custody in these situations tends to revictimize abused spouses and their children and can in fact immortalize the intergenerational transmission of child abuse as they learn to identify with the abuser. (Geffner – Pagelow, 1990.) It is not so different when a lawyer tells an alienating parent that they cannot help them take custody, unless they can get proof that the other parent is a really bad parent, or proof that the child is afraid of the other parent, even though it might be totally false. Often I meet parents who will do their best to convince everyone that they are saints, while the other parent of the spawn is Satan. Most of the time, this message is insinuated and, in rare cases, very well expressed. Such an attitude often hinders a healthy decision as to what is best for the child or children concerned, because it makes all parties involved uncomfortable and slows down the process with interruptions.
When you and the other parent begin the divorce process, the family court is primarily interested in preserving the health and well-being of your children. A child care plan is an official document that describes where the children will be and with which parent. If parents agree that additional specialists may be part of negotiated custody and/or visitation agreements, the mediator may ask to speak to the psychiatric expert or family officer. This can be done over the phone to reduce the time and cost of personal performances. The Ombudsman`s objective is to address his concerns about alienation, abuse and/or violence. If the other experts involved in the case coincide, an Ad Litem lawyer should be appointed by the court to represent the interests of the children. For example, in a state where there is a presumption of sole custody, if you are unable to agree with your spouse on custody and your case goes to court, you must demonstrate why joint legal custody – or perhaps even joint physical custody – would be in your child`s best interests, given the circumstances of your family.