Barbara J. Katzenberg, Attorney at Law
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Child custody: Shared parenting may stop parental alienation

Imagine a situation in which a Massachusetts parent has to choose between two children. Most parents would say that it would be an impossible choice to make; however, those same parents might be those who expect their children to choose between two parents in the event of a divorce. Child custody is always an emotional issue that often includes conflict and contention. Sadly, children are frequently traumatized by the struggles of parents to come to terms with a divorce.

While celebrating National Parental Awareness Day on April 25, the National Parents Organization underscored the importance of a strong bond between parents and children to be maintained for the benefit of the emotional, physical and mental well-being of both. The organization promotes the idea of shared parenting and urges all states to consider legislation that will support this type of parenting. In a traditional custody battle, there is often a winner-takes-all outcome in which the mind of a child sometimes gets filled with negative thoughts about the non-custodial parent.

This is known as parental alienation and is a family's response to an acrimonious divorce in which a child has significantly more contact with one parent who -- intentionally or unintentionally -- poisons the child's mind against the other parent. Shared parenting allows both parents equal time with their children. Because children are actively involved with both parents, parental alienation is prevented. While this type of parenting may benefit countless families, it will not be suitable for families for whom divorce followed abuse, substance addiction, crime or more.

A divorce is not something to rush into, especially when there are children involved. Any divorcing parent will benefit from consulting with an experienced Massachusetts family law attorney to gain knowledge about the ways in which child custody and parenting can be molded to suit the dynamics of the soon-to-be post-divorce family. Mom and dad can become ex-spouses, but they will never be ex-parents, and ways can be found to maintain loving parent-child relationships.

Source: parentherald.com, "Shared Parenting Laws: A Solution To End 'Parental Alienation'?", Kristine Walker, April 28, 2016

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