When considering divorce, most couples tend to think that litigation is their only option. Thankfully, that’s no longer the case. In addition to traditionally litigated divorce, where each partner has their own legal representative and experts and everything is signed off on by a judge, mediation and collaborative divorce allow partners to separate in the manner that is most appropriate for them—and their kids, allowing parents to better protect their children in a divorce.
Whichever option you choose, you and your soon-to-be ex can make a conscious choice to keep the children’s best interests front and center during your divorce. After all, once the papers are signed, you and your ex will be embarking on a new journey and crafting a new relationship as co-parents.
Protecting Your Children in a Divorce
Breaking the News
Breaking the news of a divorce can be traumatic in itself. How you choose to share the information that mom and dad will be divorcing matters. It’s not the type of bomb one drops during a family breakfast. Discuss how you think it is best to break the news with your partner. Seek outside counsel if necessary and remember to consider the temperament of your child or children when delivering the news. Let them know that you will still be a family, that they are loved, and that their feelings matter.
Setting Ground Rules
Parents who will be dividing parenting duties benefit from having a set of ground rules. It’s also beneficial for children going through a divorce. Parents should not bad mouth or discuss the other parent in front of the children. Conversations in front of the children should be civil. Parents will need to learn new ways to communicate and to resolve problems as their family undergoes this transition. Having a set of rules, which may eventually be codified in legal documentation, can help ensure that the children come first throughout the process. It can be as simple as saying that Mom handles the medical care and educational concerns while dad is responsible for all extracurricular activities. These guidelines make it easier to avoid explosive situations and create a sense of stability in what can be a tumultuous time.
Divorce isn’t just happening to the two spouses ending their marriage. It’s also happening to the children who will now need to transition to life in two separate homes. It’s important that both parents take the time to truly listen to what their children are saying—and not saying—and to allay their fears.
Parents who are working on transitioning their own lives and who are undergoing the legal termination of one of the most important relationships in their life may do their best to listen and support their children, however, integrating therapy and providing children with someone else to speak with about the divorce and other issues they may be facing can help ensure that their needs are being met.
However a couple decides to divorce, there are steps parents can take to ensure their kids are front and center. That said, it’s important to note that collaborative divorce goes a step further by allowing a child specialist to be an integral part of the divorce process. A child specialist, whose role is discussed here in further detail, makes it their mission to give voice to the children in a divorce. They also help parents navigate the sometimes choppy waters of co-parenting as they begin to separate their lives.
Divorce is often painted as a destructive process for children, but it doesn’t have to be. With parents—and lawyers—committed to keeping the children’s needs first, it is possible to transition to post-divorce life with fewer scars and stronger bonds.
If you’re thinking about divorce and unsure of your options and what you can do to protect your children, consult with a skilled Tampa divorce lawyer. At Quinn & Lynch Family Law, we focus on multiple aspects of family law. Whether you need help with custody agreements, are having difficulty securing child support, or are considering a collaborative divorce, we can help. Give us a call today to learn more.