Divorce is a trying time for anyone, but it is much more difficult when you have children. Going through a contentious custody battle can wear on your emotions, as well as your children’s. Learning about the impacts can give you an idea of how to handle them.

In the United States, around half of all marriages end in divorce. Half of American children have parents who are divorced. Many of these cases involve intense fights over who will have custody of the kids.

Longer battles, more impacts

Trying to resolve custody matters quickly benefits everyone involved. As the conflict drags on, the mental effects increase. This is partially due to the children not having the consistency they need to thrive. Unfortunately, parents might become so focused on their own desires that they forget that the focus must be on the children.

One particularly problematic area is when there are allegations of abuse. The children often get stuck in the middle of this even when there wasn’t any violence toward them. Around 90% of women who have been abused are forced to fight for custody. Approximately 78% of men who are accused of abusing the woman will ultimately win the battle for custody. However, this doesn’t mean that all of these men were abusing anyone.

Sometimes, people going through a divorce will make false accusations, but the court must take the time to ensure that the children are protected. This often means that the judge will take action to keep the kids away from the accused person until the children’s safety is assured.

Signs of problems adjusting

For children, the impacts of divorce vary. Typically, males will act out physically and females will internalize the trauma. Boys may get into trouble at school or get into fights. Girls might have difficulty eating or sleeping and they may feel depressed.

It can help for parents to talk to other trusted adults, such as teachers and pastors, about the divorce. These individuals can then be vigilant for signs of problems adjusting. This may enable you to address them before the maladjustment become too advanced.

When you are in the middle of a contentious custody battle, try to remember that all decisions you make must revolve around the kids. It might not be easy to work with your ex, but when parents can remain a team, the children are the ones who benefit. As you work out the terms of the custody agreement, think about what the kids need right now. You can always seek a modification in the future if necessary.