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TRAUMA EXPERIENCED DURING CHILD CUSTODY DISPUTES MAY RESULT IN REUNIFICATION ANXIETY SIMILAR TO THAT OF KIDNAPPING VICTIMS AND DEPLOYED SOLDIERS

Time.JPGKidnapping victims often face challenges when reuniting with family members.
Earlier this week three women who were kidnapped over a decade ago and held in a Cleveland, Ohio home were able to escape. These women are currently reuniting with their families after long periods of isolation. According to psychologists, reintroducing individuals who have been held captive to people they knew before can be a very difficult process.
In response to news of the women’s escape CNN.com republished a 2009 article discussing the reunification of two children with their parents after being kidnapped and held captive for extended periods of time.
One of the children featured in the piece was Richard K. Wilfong Chekevdia who was six years old when his mother abducted him in violation of a court order granting joint custody to both parents. The boy was forced to live in seclusion for over two years before he was discovered.
Military personnel also report that reunification with family members after deployment is the most stressful aspect of separation.
A survey of military spouses of deployed Army soldiers with young children also reveals that families experience challenges when reuniting after a stressful or traumatic experience. Of the military spouses interviewed, 75 percent of respondents said that the return from deployment was the most stressful stage of separation for the family. The military spouses described family members as having conflicted emotions.
Experts believe that children involved in custody disputes are susceptible to stress and anxiety when reuniting with a parent they have not seen for a period of time.

According to experts, in some cases, children who find themselves in the midst of their parents’ custody dispute may face similar challenges as kidnapping victims and military personnel when reuniting with a parent they have not seen for a long period of time. While children who are involved in custody disputes usually don’t experience the same level of severe isolation and trauma as these group, children who are involved in custody disputes are sometimes encouraged to develop feelings of hate or resentment against a parent. At times, the parent who is teaching their child to hate their other parent may employ extreme tactics.


One out of every seven divorces involves a child custody dispute. If you are considering filing for divorce where child custody may be an issue, you should contact an attorney immediately. An attorney will help navigate you through the divorce process and offer advice on how to make the experience as least disruptive as possible on your child.
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