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Five Tips on Child Custody and Visitation

Earlier we wrote about New Jersey dad David Goldman's continuing effort to get back custody of his son Sean, who has allegedly been kept wrongly in Brazil ever since the family went there on vacation in 2004. Well, CNN had an update noting that, despite the fact that a Brazilian court had ruled in David Goldman's favor, a Brazilian Supreme Court judge on Tuesday suspended the custody order. According to the judge "taking Sean 'in an abrupt manner' from his home could cause the boy psychological harm."

However, Goldman replied that "the boy was suffering psychological harm simply by remaining with his Brazilian relatives, whom Goldman accused of turning his son against him." Although the Goldman case is probably not typical, custody disputes can still often be bitter, and it is particularly unfortunate when a child is exposed or placed in the middle of such a battle. With both children and families' wellness in mind, here are five tips on general child custody and visitation issues:

1. Put your children's interests first. Divorce is a stressful and emotional event in most cases, and this goes for kids too. To the extent it is possible to ease their burden, it is best for both parents to do so.

2. For non-custodial parents, avoid the temption of letting visitation become play or vacation time. This can affect the parenting dynamic in negative ways, and one may be better served by using the time to reinforce the parent-child relationship and spending "regular" time together.

3. Behave respectfully with an ex. A tough one, in some cases, but at the very least when in front of the kids, former spouses should be civil and respectful toward each other.

4. Avoid stepping into issues between your kid and your ex. Sometimes a child will something they "didn't get their way" on from one parent to the other, hoping for a more favorable resolution. It is all too tempting to be the good guy or good gal in such situations, but it should be avoided unless it involves safety issues or similar concerns.

5. Be there for your kid. This one should probably be #1 as far as importance, and this means being responsible in making arrangements for visitation, and being prompt and reliable in sticking to it.