Divorce and child custody disputes are difficult for parents but they can be even more difficult for children. Kids may blame themselves for their parents' divorce. A tense divorce can also create a hostile home life, where parents and children may be exposed to abuse, violence, yelling, fights, and depression. In extreme cases, the child may run away from home to escape the troubles. Unfortunately, a young person on the streets can face even more problems.
A recent case in South Carolina involved a 17-year-old girl who ran away after her parents exchanged custody. The child custody order provided that Ashlynn Tudor would have to be in her father's custody for the next 90 days but the teenager did not want to leave her mother.
Sheriff's deputies were eventually called and drove Ashlynn Tudor to her father's house on December 6, 2019. However, about 15 minutes after the deputies left, the girl ran away. According to the report, the girl is in contact with her therapist but does not intend on returning to the area.
Why Kids Run Away
Parents separating or getting a divorce can increase the tension in the home, arguments, and even turn to physical abuse. According to a KidsHealth article, reasons kids run away include:
- Financial problems at home,
- Problems at school, and
- Drug or alcohol problems.
When children and teenagers run away from home to escape problems, they often find a new set of problems but are left without a support system to help them. It may only take a couple of days for a runaway to discover they have no regular source of money, food, a place to sleep, or someone to look out for them. Runaways may turn to theft or other crimes to get food to eat or get into drugs or alcohol to escape.
Mediation in Custody Disputes
One way to avoid escalating a child custody dispute is by going through mediation. Mediation is often a mandatory part of the child custody and visitation dispute process. Parents have to go through mediation before their case can be heard by the court. During mediation, a neutral mediator is used to assist the parties in reaching a mutually acceptable agreement.
Mediation is generally more cooperative than litigation. It also gives parents the tools to resolve any disputes that come up in the future without necessarily having to resort to the courts. Of course, mediation is not always successful. Where there has been a history of abuse or domestic violence, mediation may not be the best approach.
Resolving Child Custody Disputes in the Best Interests of the Child
In a child custody dispute, the court will make a decision based on the child's best interest. Factors in deciding custody may include each parent's willingness to be responsible for meaningful contact with both parents. If you are involved in a child custody dispute and want to do what is best for your child, contact the Joshua Wilson Law Firm in Raymore today. You can reach us by phone at (816) 331-9968 or fill out our online form.