Divorce is a complex process, especially when children are involved. Custody battles are always emotionally charged and stressful for everyone involved.
Parents may find themselves in situations where they are fighting over the custody of their children, making decisions that will impact their lives forever.
Identifying the elements of varying degrees of conflict that may arise during child custody and access cases is important. This guide will help you understand the different types of conflict that can arise and how to handle them.
Low-conflict Custody & Access Arrangements
Low-conflict custody and access arrangements are when separating couples can communicate effectively and put the child’s best interests ahead of their own.
This “cooperative parenting” is the ideal situation, where conflict is resolved between the adults using occasional expressions of anger and can quickly control negative emotions.
In this situation, custody and access arrangements can be resolved through mediation or negotiation.
Moderate-conflict Custody & Access Arrangements
A moderate-conflict situation can often be resolved with the help of divorce lawyers or mediators. Parents may have differing opinions on what is best for their children, leading to occasional verbal abuse or loud disagreements. However, they are willing to negotiate and compromise for a mutually beneficial solution.
Read more: Custody and Access Arrangements
High-conflict Custody & Access Arrangements
Parents have deeply-rooted issues or disagreements that make it difficult to resolve in high-conflict custody and access arrangements. This scenario can lead to court battles where both parties may feel they must win. This degree of conflict is where children can be profoundly affected.
Read more: Managing Conflict in Your Divorce
Severe-conflict Custody & Access Arrangements
In severe-conflict custody and access arrangements, where parents are unable to communicate or negotiate with one another, and mediation attempts fail, the Courts may appoint a Child Representative Lawyers to represent the child’s interests or order a social welfare report to assess the family situation.
Read more: 3 Ways to Diffuse High-Conflict Co-Parenting
Escalating-conflict Custody & Access Arrangements
Escalating-conflict custody and access arrangements are situations where the conflict worsens over time. One parent ignores custody and access arrangements in this scenario or violates court orders. The other parent may feel helpless to stop their ex-partner’s behaviour, leading to conflict and legal battles.
Read more: What is Parental Alienation?
When High-Conflict custody and access arrangements cannot be settled
Possible scenarios faced if parties are unable to settle:
- More court appearances;
- Longer time needed for the matter to conclude;
- Higher costs incurred; and
- Impact on children when proceedings become long-drawn.
Interventions that may prove beneficial
- Counselling and therapeutic resources available to parents and children;
- Co-parenting programmes to teach parents and/or extended family members on how to work together;
- Appointing of Child Representative or calling of Custody Evaluation Reports to determine what is in the best interests of each child; and
- Supervised and/or Assisted Access at a social service agency for families in high conflict or where there is a history of domestic violence.
In many custody and access cases, there is a high level of emotional turmoil, and the varying degrees of conflict can significantly impact the child’s well-being. Therefore, it is essential to remember that custody and access arrangements are not about who wins and who loses but rather about the child’s best interests.
Find yourself in a custody and access disagreement? Our experienced family lawyers/mediators can work with you to find a mutually beneficial solution.
“Remember, the best outcome always benefits the child’s life and protects their health and mental well-being.”
We’re here for you
We have a dedicated family law team ready to listen, understand your situation, and advise you on:
- Child Custody & Maintenance issues;
- Access Arrangements;
- Parenting Plans;
- Relocation issues.