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Divorce and Its Impact on Children

When a couple begins the process of a divorce, one of the main questions often asked by new clients falls within the category of divorce and its impact on children. Parents routinely come with questions about maintenance, child support, parenting time, or how to maintain financial instability; however, the main focus of clients is wanting what is best for their children.

Impact on Children

The divorce process can have an enormous impact on a child’s life. Just as a divorce will affect the parents, it similarly changes everything to which the children have grown accustomed. There is significant research suggesting that children suffer when parents separate. However, as a parent, you have significant control in how your children will be affected.

Keep the Kids Out of it

The most important advice any divorce attorney can provide is to not place your children in the middle of the conflict. Unfortunately, you can’t hide your divorce from your children. They will realize what is happening when one parent moves out or they are told this weekend is Mom/Dad’s weekend. However, having a reliable parenting time schedule or adjusting to this change doesn’t place your children in the middle — It is moving forward.

In order to keep your children out of the conflict, keep the legal conversation or disagreements between the parents. Your children don’t need to know that Dad is going back to court to ask for more parenting time or that Mom is filing a contempt charge because Dad isn’t paying child support. These aren’t conversations to which children should be privy. The ability to encourage a positive relationship between your children and the other parent is of paramount importance (despite any negative emotions you may have towards the other parent). Any parent would tell you that it’s not always easy. Although it may be more difficult during a divorce, it’s all the more important. You may be struggling emotionally in dealing with the changes occurring or the hurt you feel. However, as a parent, you don’t need to turn to your children for support or comfort during this time. You must put aside your own pain and understand that your children still need you as their role model. If it is Dad’s weekend, you need to encourage your child to go spent time with Dad even though they may not want to because “Dad left.” Likewise, if Mom is in a new relationship, it’s still important to encourage your child to go spend time with her and the people in her life.

Kids as Messengers

Children shouldn’t become the mouthpieces for parents. Children shouldn’t be placed in a situation where they must choose one parent over the other. Parents should have a reliable method of communication (phone, text, email, talking parents, etc.) where all conversations are exchanged, whether it’s a minor change to the parenting time schedule, concerns about children grades, or even to discuss larger issues such as extracurricular activities or school choice.

Final Thoughts

The litigation process is, by its very nature, adversarial. From the beginning, it places parties in conflict. It pits parent against parent. In Colorado, we are fortunate to be in a state in which mediation is required. By having this requirement, parents are given an invaluable opportunity to resolve their issues together in the best manner for their children. Parents should remember that always being in an adversarial environment is unhealthy for children. Litigation is a hard experience for any individual, let alone a child. Using the resources available to reach agreements out of court can help to minimize conflict. Furthermore, it can create more positive co-parenting relationships moving forward as parents and their children start their new lives after divorce. In summation, much can be done to minimize divorce’s impact on children. 

Posted April 19, 2017
by: MFL Team

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