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Child custody battles may be bad for children

New York parents who are divorcing may want to reconsider their plans to fight over child custody. Many experts believe that a contentious divorce is more harmful to children than some parents believe it to be.

A 2014 film called "Talk to Strangers" examines custody battles from the point of view of the children. The filmmaker brought out a number of points about these disputes that parents may be unaware of. For example, children are not always as resilient as parents believe them to be, and they often think their parents are more interested in fighting with one another than taking care of them. Children are also often embarrassed by their parents' behavior and are not as removed from the process as their parents think they are.

The film also pointed out that the reasons a child chooses to live with one parent over another may not be clear. The child may have been presented information about one parent that is not true. Children may also feel overly responsible for one parent or may even have been bribed.

Increasingly, there is evidence that shared parenting may be the most beneficial option for children. Shared parenting means each parent gets at least 33 percent of total time. Aspects of a child's upbringing such as religious, educational and medical decisions may also be divided between parents.

Parents who are divorcing may wish to consult their respective family law attorneys about how best to approach negotiations around child custody and visitation. If possible, the parents may wish to attempt to negotiate the issue. This might also lead to a more positive co-parenting relationship in the years after the divorce. However, in some cases, a parent will not cooperate, and litigation is necessary. In such a circumstance, an attorney may be able to assist in working toward a solution that is in the best interests of the child.

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