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Bitter Custody Battles and the Effect on Children

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This week, the Yahoo Parenting Column featured an article entitled “$1 Million a Month in Child Support? Inside a Billionaire’s Nasty Divorce Battle”, written by Jennifer O’Neill. The article focuses on the divorce of hedge fund billionaire Ken Griffin from his wife of eleven years, Anne Dias Griffin.


The Griffins are currently involved in an extremely acrimonious divorce proceeding. The major disputed issue in the case is custody and child support for the couple’s three children (aged two, four, and six). Ms. Griffin is arguing that she should have full custody of the children and also asks for almost $1 million a month in child support. In the papers filed by her attorney, Ms. Griffin claimed the following monthly expenses: $6,800 for groceries, $7,200 for dining out, $60,000 for office space and professional staff including four nannies, $160,000 for vacation digs, and $300,000 for a private jet. Ms. Griffin stated, “I want the kids’ lives to remain every bit as pampered as they had been while living with their father.” On the other hand, Mr. Griffin wants shared custody with his soon to be ex-wife.


Experts following this story had a lot to say about the Griffin’s hotly contested divorce. Psychotherapist M. Gary Neuman explained, “Every child of divorce faces challenges when parents use their children as pawns… It creates a sense of extreme guilt in the child. They feel as though they are now the reason for the fighting as they hear parents debate about them. That guilt can create self-hate and add to the intense sadness of divorce.”


Psychologist Justin D’Arienzo stated, “If the rancor between the couple in the courtroom spills out at home, the kids will absorb it and suffer regardless of whether or not they’re a part of the proceedings. Children don’t understand the complexities of adult relationships or why they may end. And when things are so tense between mom and dad, children find themselves forced to align with one while blaming the other. This hurts the child as well as the vilified parent.”


Finally, psychologist James H. Bray, Ph.D., of the Baylor College of Medicine, comments, “Kids absorb the way their parents behave. If the adults model fighting and discord, that’s what kids are going to learn. And don’t think the issues are over their heads because they’re too little. Even young ones can understand parents sentiments just by nonverbal cues and at early age can figure out if one parent hates the other.”


Fortunately, such acrimonious cases like this are rare. “The good thing is that only 10 to 20 percent of divorces are high conflict like this one,” says D’Arienzo. “It’s just in these high acrimony cases that you see a lasting impact on the children. Most kids, and adults, land happily on their feet six months to two years later.”


If you have specific questions regarding divorce, child support, child custody, or if all communication has broken down and you are in need of a well-respected and experienced Long Island Divorce Attorney, contact the offices of Jay D. Raxenberg. Call (516) 491-0565 or toll free at (888) 543-4867.

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