Custody fights occur probably more frequently than they need to during divorces. Many factors and forces come into play and result in litigation over child custody. Here are some of the common reasons why parents may engage in a custody fight. Anyone going through a divorce and contemplating a custody fight should take some time to realistically assess their motivation and the probability of success in a custody fight. If you are thinking about beginning a custody fight, take a minute and look at the following list. Mark the reason or reasons for your consideration of a custody fight. Dig below the surface and be honest! Think about which reasons are really good and appropriate reasons for contesting custody.
1. The parent has a sincere belief that he/she is the better parent.
2. A wife may want to avoid the embarrassment of being a mother who doesn't have custody of her child.
3. The parent may be really mad at the other parent, often on an issue not at all related to kids. It's a way to really demonstrate anger and get a response.
4. One parent may use the fight to punish the other parent. It's an opportunity to say some really bad and hurtful things about the other spouse. It may seem like an easy way to get revenge.
5. It can be an easy way to control the other parent. Getting started in a custody fight usually involves a great deal of court or agency oversight. Just making some allegations will produce a “lock-down” approach where severe restrictions can be imposed on the other party.
6. A custody fight, or even the threat of one, can help a parent gain a strategic concession on some other issue, i.e. property division. The reward for giving up a custody fight (even one that was surely a loser) may be some substantial assets given up by the other parent.
7. Amazingly, some parents will try to win custody primarily to avoid paying child support. Those parents obviously have not been very involved in raising kids.
8. Sometimes, there's a fight because a parent doesn't like the proposed visitation scheme. That's a “nothing to lose” approach. If the visitation schedule won't work, maybe having custody will.
9. The parent can't imagine being away from the child.
10. Family pressure may provoke a custody fight where a parent might not have tried it if the parent had been left alone.
11. Religious reasons, i.e. how the child is to be raised, may be the motivation of a deeply committed parent if the other parent does not share the beliefs or depth of beliefs of the first parent.
12. Mental or emotional issues of the parent wanting custody may lead to the action. Sometimes, a parent does not view the world in the same way that most of society does. A person with a maladjusted point of view may feel compelled to seek custody when objective and well-grounded parents would not.
13. A desire to maintain an active parenting role could be the motivation. Of course, there are many different ways to be an active, involved parent.
14. When there's a strong disagreement about the care-taking plans for the child, a custody fight can easily develop.
15. A parent may seek custody if there is a belief that the parent has superior resources for taking care of the child, i.e. the parent has more money and can afford to provide a better home, better schools and better opportunities for the child.
16. A mom may believe that the mother should always have custody.
17. A parent may believe that the child is more bonded to one of the parents.
18. The custody fight may just be an effort to financially ruin the other spouse.
19. Trying to win custody may be an effort to avoid having the child around the other spouse's family.
20. Sometimes, one parent may just enjoy fighting with the other parent.
Which of these is your motivation? Which ones do you think are good reasons for a custody fight? I think 1, 8, 11, 13, 14, 15 and 17 are appropriate reasons in some circumstances. What do you think? In addition to the costs involved, think about what your true, underlying reasons are for seeking custody. There may be some much better long-term alternatives available which you and your attorney can come up with.