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When child custody disputes get ugly, call a professional

No one loves your children more than you do. For most parents, that's a no-brainer. But sometimes the love a parent has for his or her child can lead to irrational thoughts and actions. This is particularly true in the case of divorced or unmarried couples.

Most divorced parents have a child custody arrangement in which visitation times are established. Other times, one of the parents may not have access to the child, either because of a restraining order or other lack of parental rights. In our last post we discussed the issue of child custody issues involving rape, which is another situation in which a custodial parent might object to visitation with the child's other parent. Whatever the case, there are times when a parent chooses to gain access to a child against the orders of the court or the wishes of the other parent.

It's not uncommon for police in Dallas and other cities to be called to homes on domestic assault reports involving children. Many times these calls happen on weekends, when divorced parents are scheduled to pick up or drop off their children. For any number of reasons, a parent may refuse to allow the other parent to take a child. Unfortunately, sometimes these arguments can get physical and lead to assault.

Both parents need to realize that these "heated exchanges" -- where the exchange of a child leads to an exchange of words and possibly more -- never benefit children. Study after study has shown that children of divorce tend to harbor negative thoughts about their parents' fighting well into adulthood, which can affect their ability to develop successful relationships of their own. Memories of their parents locked in a physical fight aren't likely to help.

These custody and visitation fights can also be extremely dangerous and lead to criminal charges if they escalate too far. If an argument does spiral out of control, the best course of action is to call police if things get physical, and call a family law attorney to help you sort out the legal aspects.

Source: KNDO.com, "Police warn child custody disputes can turn violent," Jane Sander, Oct. 8, 2012

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