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Parental conflicts' effects on children after a Houston divorce

Houston spouses who choose to end a marriage often take hard feelings with them when they separate. The emotional sting of divorce can fade as former partners move into the future independently. However, post-divorce lives for parents include exes, since former spouses are bound by responsibilities to their children.

The structure of child custody and visitation arrangements often brings former spouses face to face and forces them to communicate. Interactions may be uncomfortable or in the worst cases, filled with venom. The spousal conflicts of the past resurface under different circumstances, creating new problems and hardships for their children.

Some parents -- more often than not, custodial parents -- manipulate co-parenting rules after divorce in a sort of power play over an ex. Children may hear disparaging remarks about the non-custodial parent, his or her lifestyle or parenting techniques. Sometimes unjustified restrictions are placed on a former spouse's communications or visits with children in an attempt by one parent to take full control and alienate the other parent.

A 2012 Psychology Today report was clear about the damaging effects of high parental conflict on kids, particularly when parents' negative issues were long-term. In the past, many family judges responded to research that measured negative effects in children against how often kids were shuffled between parents' post-divorce homes. Many courts determined children's best interests were compromised by witnessing frequent battles between parents and ruled against shared custody.

Newer studies have indicated conflict resolutions, not custody re-arrangements, seemed to be effective in high tension situations. A 2002 analysis found conflict in shared custody arrangements caused fewer child problems than alienation from a non-custodial parent.

Family law attorneys are no strangers to spousal conflicts, although work is confined to handling the legal aspects of custody, visitation and support. Lawyers often can recommend family counselors, who are suited to help former spouses learn to co-parent without causing harm to their children.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Are Child Custody Laws That Treat Parental Gatekeeping Like Child Abuse Long Overdue?" B. Robert Farzad, Aug. 12, 2014

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