Families in Massachusetts may be aware of many of the legal and emotional issues that come with going through a divorce. In particular, when parents deal with child custody, child support or property division, divorcing couples have to make difficult decisions affecting everyone involved.

While divorcing individuals are right to look out for their own interests, sometimes parents assume that every decision they make for their own sake is the right decision for their children. However, there are situations in which a parent’s custody choices have a negative impact on the child.

For example, consider parenting or visitation schedules. In these matters, it is important to remember that certain custody decisions can be confusing to a child. Because each parent may have a different idea about child rearing — including how to discipline, how best to communicate and what rules to establish in the home — children are sometimes left in emotional and structural limbo.

The primary concern, then, should be to create a sense of continuity and structure for children. That can mean not requiring the child to move back and forth between households too frequently. Vastly different house rules can also eventually result in conflicts between the parents and the kids. Another good idea is run any major custody or household decisions by the child first, in order to avoid a confusing or disruptive situation.

Being fair is a major aspect of good family law, but parents may also have to concede in some cases to the needs of the child rather than seek an arrangement that seems purely fair for the each parent. Equal parenting time shared between the parents isn’t always the best option for protecting the child’s best interests, but the divorcing parties nonetheless should be aware of their parental rights.

Source: doorcountyadvocate.com, “Theory: In divorce, equal does not always mean fair,” Jamie Palmer, Oct. 26, 2012