Home » Divorce and Children » Gambling with Innocence: Children as Bargaining Chips in Divorce

Gambling with Innocence: Children as Bargaining Chips in Divorce

When two adults are parents to a child or children that biological or legal fact never changes. No matter what the other party says, or the courts say, parents are always parents. Yes, there are times when the act of parenting is difficult, and there may be times when one parent is slightly “better” at it than the other. However, barring one parent placing a child in danger, or causing direct harm to a child, no parent should ever face the

Moving Forward

Children will always be the tie that binds.


fear of losing a child as a punitive measure for not being a good wife, or partner.

Children only get to be such at one time in their lives. Parenting means realizing every single day that every action taken affects the children. Sometimes this means that when two adults find they can no longer resolve conflict and provide a safe, harmonious home for their children while living in the same home, that one of the parties must move out of the home. Sometimes this is done as a break or a separation until heads cool, and this is a good idea. Sometimes it happens when one person has reached a breaking point and feels that separation or divorce are the only option.

When this occurs, no matter the circumstances, again to iterate, unless one of the parents has caused direct harm, physically, emotionally, or through negligence to a child [1], that parent still has the right to parent, and to be a part of that child’s life [2].

It is typically when one party feels wronged by the other through infidelity that the urge to strike out occurs. The “injured” party is angry, hurt, and saddened that this has occurred and is the reason for the break-up of not only the marriage, but also the family. These are all very valid and understandable feelings.

However, when the injured party decides to retaliate [3] through withholding visitation of the children, or making visitation almost impossible, this cannot be validated, even when understood.

When a divorcing couple cannot come to terms over how they will parent their children, there needs to be intervention. The hardest thing to do is to come to terms that they must put their hurt, their anger, and yes, even their grief on the back burner and focus their energies on what is in the best interests of the children.

The GA Courts are very stringent when it comes to child custody matters [4]. Very reasonably so, the courts do not want there to be any loopholes that can later cause problems with interpretation.

When parents can no longer co-parent, the courts will tell them how they must do it. This is done in the best interests of the children, WHEN THE PARENTS ARE NO LONGER ACTING IN THEIR INTERESTs [5].

These are harsh words, they hit below the heart.

When two people come the decision that they must separate or divorce, it is important that they find a means of settling their conflict so that the best interests of the children become the focus. Attending mediation and working through the conflict can help.

A mediator is a neutral party [6], either assigned by the court, or selected prior to or in lieu of court when couples come to an impasse and lawyers cannot help them to come to an agreement on matters related to the children.

Children are not property. That is the reason that the custody of the children is addressed in an entirely different section of a divorce decree than the division of property and assets.

With mediation, there is negotiation, but when there are children involved, they should not be bargaining chips, or a means of punishing the other party.

Mediation is a means of getting it all out on the table so-to-speak, with a neutral party who is there to facilitate discussion, and lead the couple to a resolution that puts the children where they should always be: First.

Coming soon: Child Custody: When Grandparents Become Collateral Damage

[1] “Child Abuse and Neglect-Symptoms,” WebMD, accessed April 14, 2017, http://www.webmd.com/parenting/tc/child-maltreatment-symptoms.

[2] “Learning about Child Custody | Georgia.gov,” accessed April 14, 2017, https://georgia.gov/popular-topic/learning-about-child-custody.

[3] “Infidelity: Consequences of Punishing the Offending Partner,” GoodTherapy.org Therapy Blog, March 10, 2010, http://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/consequences-of-punishing-offending-partner-in-infidelity/.

[4] “Learning about Child Custody | Georgia.gov.”

[5] “The Impact of Divorce on Young Children and Adolescents,” Psychology Today, accessed April 14, 2017, http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/surviving-your-childs-adolescence/201112/the-impact-divorce-young-children-and-adolescents.

[6] “Georgia Commission on Dispute Resolution,” Text, accessed April 14, 2017, http://godr.org/.

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