This idea that a legal contest must be won or lost is responsible for most of the emotional damage done to a family. Because of this idea, parents believe they are faced with the prospect of either winning or losing their children.
The legal system's shortcomings
The legal system further encourages this kind of thinking by making most decisions from the bench counterproductive to the effective resolution of a divorce. A judge's ruling may draw a line in the sand for both parties to obey, but that line does little to resolve their differences. Instead, the court system acts as a referee rather than as a coach where judges give rulings — not resolutions. It isn't difficult to understand why parents wanting a favorable ruling spend large sums of money on lawyers, child psychologists, private investigators, accountants and others to ensure a win rather than risk a loss.
What it means for children
Children however, cannot win regardless of which parent emerges victorious. What child can escape unharmed when caught in the middle of highly conflicted charges and counter-charges of parental unfitness or abuse; being forced to choose sides and hide their love for the other parent; or understand the complex legal nature of the court system. Not only are children scarred by witnessing their parents battle one another, but using the courts to devise a custody and access arrangement is a waste of money - money that could have been better spent to the needs of the children.