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Conflicts that arise in child custody cases

For Pennsylvania parents and their children, conflict over custody and visitation issues may be the most difficult aspect of a divorce even if parents agree to split custody equally. If the divorce is acrimonious, one or both parents might fail to honor the custody agreement.

One parent might try to alienate the other from the child. This might be by not allowing the child to join the non-custodial parent at the agreed-upon visitation times or not permitting the child to speak with the parent on the phone. Often, a non-custodial parent's only recourse in a situation like this is to return to court. A parent should document the situation as much as possible as evidence.

On the other hand, one parent may confuse and upset the child by not being present at the visitation times agreed on. Consistency is critical for children who are experiencing their parents' divorce, and non-custodial parents need to work with an attorney if necessary to choose a visitation schedule that they can commit to. Besides the emotional toll such a situation can take on a child, a parent might also face sanctions such as fines for not fulfilling the commitment.

Parents should keep in mind that judges usually think that in most cases, it is better for a child to have contact with both of them. If parents have concerns about abuse or neglect and want changes in custody, they should address those concerns through legal channels, but if they are simply unhappy with their ex's parenting, withholding contact is not appropriate. It may be possible to address specific concerns in a parenting agreement. Parents should work with their attorneys to define their concerns and work toward placing them in a legal framework.

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