Child custody is just one of the details you and your soon-to-be ex need to work out as you prepare for your new lives apart. Although the days when custody was automatically awarded to the mother are long behind us, mothers are still more likely to be granted primary custody, and fathers often fail to stand up for their rights.
It's important to keep in mind that unless either of you has shown to be an unfit parent, children greatly benefit in the long term from having relatively equal time with both parents. Too often custody is used as a tool to exact revenge on a spouse, and while it may initially feel good for the parent awarded custody to hold that judgment over the other parent's head, in the end, it's your child who suffers most, not your spouse. At the same time, remember to stick up for yourself before assuming you won't get as much time with the kids as your ex.
Accompanying the issue of custody is child support. In the state of Georgia, child support is usually calculated using the incomes of both parents along with the amount of time their children spend with each. But what if custody didn't enter the equation, and the amount of money each parent had to work with was settled without that tug of war? If custody and support were determined separately, there might be less fighting over both.
Speaking of fighting, many parents believe that they're effectively hiding their emotions about the divorce from their children. But keep in mind how perceptive kids can be without talking directly to them. They hear you on the phone, in the next room, complaining to your friends or to yourself about your ex. Divorce almost always has a long-term negative effect on children. Your job as their parent at this time is to lessen that negativity in whatever way possible. That means both you and your ex need to treat each other as respectfully as you can, and to truly put your child's feelings ahead of your own.
The end of your marriage doesn't have to spell the end of good times for anyone -- you, your spouse or your children. But you as a parent are responsible for ensuring that the details of your divorce, whether it's time (child custody) or money (child support), don't get in the way of a happy childhood for your son or daughter.
Source: Huffington Post, "Divorce + Child Custody = Epic Failure," Ken Solin, Jan. 17, 2012