Terminology of Custody in Divorce

The very words we use to describe the way parents deal with their children after divorce are charged with negative energy. The term “custody,” for example, pushes parents to compete with each other. Obviously, one of you is going to “win” custody and the other will “lose.” I have some of the same concern about “visitation.” Again, it connotes that one of you is the “real” parent and the other gets to visit occasionally.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Children surely don’t see it that way. They still have two parents, and they almost always want a close relationship with both of them.

Most good mediators, aware of the power of this terminology to push parents into positions, coach both parents to work out their parenting schedule and their approach to making major decisions, all before they begin putting a label on any of their agreements.