Child-focused issues related to different kinds of custody/access arrangements
When no violence, shared decision making and shared parenting can work to benefit children in the following ways:
- children benefit from ongoing, regular relationship with both parents
- reduces potential for feelings of abandonment by one parent, for which children often blame themselves
- may help children adjust with separation/divorce and minimize accompanying losses
- potentially broaden support system
However, even without violence and despite parents’ efforts, children experience a range of challenges when their parents separate/divorce, including:
- a range of feelings, including sadness, loss, rejection, generalized or targeted anger, guilt, and wishes for family reconciliation
- relief that the arguing and/or tension is reduced
- disruptions to routines
- compromised sense of security
- interruptions in peer and recreational activities, especially if distance between parental homes
- feeling and/or being “caught in the middle” within immediate and extended family, as well as with social network of parents/family
Problems for children when violence is present:
- children’s adjustment post divorce has been linked to the pre-divorce relationship of parents and this has implications for children who were living with violence
- range of typical feelings may be intensifies
- may be used by abusive partner in his efforts to continue to control and dominate their mother
- children may act out feelings (e.g., anger) related to violence now that it is safe to do so
- may experience difficulties relating to mother, respecting mother, and responding to her as a parental authority for a variety of reasons, including abusive parent’s undermining of mother’s parenting, abusive parent’s disrespect and devaluing of mother as a person, absence of “fear” as compliance mechanism
- risks to child and mother’s safety may diminish, stay the same, or increase depending on the abusive parent’s response to separation/divorce
- children’s need for attention and parenting may continue to be compromised as mother focuses on survival issues (safety, resources), court processes, etc.
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This site is not intended to replace the need for counselling. The information provided is intended to inform the viewer, giving information to help you be informed to make the best decision possible for you and your family. Please, always seek professional help and legal advice if you find yourself in an abusive situation.