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Making An Uninformed Child Custody Decision Can Be Child Abuse

Stop, look, and listen.  Custody decisions are not easy to make and they can cause irreparable harm.  I personally know about a county that assigns custody decisions knowingly to the poorest judges? and this is a county that has three diversion courts for addicts, the mentally ill, and domestic violence cases?

I have suggested that judges going to be assigned to hearing custody cases be given forty hours of face-to-face training by varying agencies and private professionals who have expertise and experience in dealing with child custody cases.  Past experience with being trained and training others in various areas suggests that only in-person experiences and a chance for feedback in both directions can assure that the individual has benefited fully from the training and can handle the responsibility involved.  It is sad (but appears to be true) that some of the people who most need this will “wiggle” out of meeting this requirement for various reasons such as, “I don’t really need this,”  or “I already know this” when these types of people are most often the ones who need the training.

Carelessness in handling the responsibility of making child custody decisions can put a child in harm’s way.  It can also not acknowledge the most recent research on child custody.  Children are our most precious resource and often decisions made about children in childhood or even adolescence are the source of problems that have to be dealt with in adulthood: addictions, mental health problems, behavior problems (often called crimes in adulthood), and poor parenting skills.

Would we be careless putting away a fair amount of gold to rely upon in the future?  Would we leave a pile of it near an open window?  Would we carelessly handle it so it would not be there in the future causing a large amount of debt and poverty?  What do we do with our children?  Do you put them out of your mind because you think yours are okay?  Children are most precious national resource!  Why waste them?

Are you sure a judge can spot potential sources of harm to children in family custody decions?  Take child abuse.  Is this something that is openly admitted by the offender?  Are their family members who don’t see it or don’t want to see it?  I have seen it happen close to home and the responsible family members had to set boundaries to keep the child from harm? even if other family members would deny that there was any potential harm.  Do you see where custody determination might fit in here as a possible cause of child abuse?

Have I known cases where the judge has made a wrong decision that had harmful effects on the children involved?  “Yes”.  Sometimes evaluating family situations for potentially serious problems, even the possible encouraging of child abuse, can be “tedious” and requires special knowledge.  This is where training for judges comes in.  Again what are we doing with our most precious resource, children?

What do most judges really know about child development issues areas such as attachment formation, prenatal development, identity issues, the need for unconditional love, and consistent fair discipline?  What about role models and opportunities for developing social skills?  Also if a child can not get something from one person in the family can he or she get it from another?

Now, do you think that there is a potential for child abuse to if the judge is not knowledgeable?  If the judge does not take his or her responsibilities seriously in making these decisions?  I do.  Raising children is a very serious responsibility, not to be taken lightly.  Part of it is providing a child with many possible sources of unconditional love, praise, good role models (which he or she might not get from only one person), etc.

Remember children are not only like one of the parents.  He or she might be left-handed and the parent is right-handed, he or she might be of one sexual orientation, and the parent is of another, he or she might be talented in one area and the parent in another.  ( See also my previous post, “Flowers Versus Weeds,…-are-you-raising/ ‎ .  How Were You Raised?  What are you raising?”  Thus these children will probably not develop their full potentials with one primary parent.  What a sad outcome and how will it affect the child’s self-esteem?

If a child feels secure, they can handle living in more than one place; probably this arrangement should be consistent and the parent and/or another family member who’s in charge should handle this responsibility well.  Remember the saying, “Children should be seen and not heard?”.  Is this a good way to raise children?  It’s not possible if you want to give them room to grow.

Raising children after you have had them is a big responsibility and no one should really “shuck” that responsibility.  It takes a father to make a child and half of what makes the child who he or she is coming from him as well as from the mother.  What does a judge know about this?  What if the judge is a person who does not want to take much responsibility for his or her own child or children?  Would this affect his or her decisions on child custody?

There are two ways to handle such decisions the “I already know all I need to do it” one and careful decision-making.  Would it help if the law could truly guide the judge too in making the custody decisions in the first place?  Probably, because many judges handle their customary custody decisions by making the decision to make the custody arrangements, usual and customary.  How damaging can this be or is it possible that these usual and customary decisions don’t have the potential to strengthen ties and provide opportunities for the child’s development on both parent’s sides.


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