Divorce is an incredibly stressful situation for all adults involved, but if you have kids, much of that stress can transfer to them as well. This is a major concern for many separating parents, and while you cannot shield kids from all the strain a divorce will bring, you can take steps to mitigate its negative effects and develop the best possible parenting plan.
Here are three basic things to consider if you are a parent going through divorce.
1. Involving children in parental conflict can be harmful to them.
Few things are more stressful for kids than watching their parents fight. Even if your divorce has been less than amicable, it is important that you and the other parent put up a unified front when you are both with your children.
Also, neither parent should speak disparagingly of the other in front of the kids, and divorcing parents should avoid using their children as messengers. This only increases the risk of involving the children in parental conflict.
2. Children need both parents in their lives.
It may be difficult to coordinate your schedule with the other parent's immediately after you separate, but it is important to do so as equitably as possible. Every situation is unique, so speak with your family law attorney about creating a workable and enforceable parenting plan so that everyone is on the same page. Joint custody is an option for many parents, and courts recognize the need for both parents in a child's life. If you know there are extraordinary circumstances to consider -- abuse or neglect, for example -- then speak with your lawyer as soon as possible about addressing these issues.
3. Parental responsibilities: who is best suited for what?
In addition to the question of parenting time, it is also important to consider parental responsibilities. For example, if you want to have a say in your child's education, then you may not want to avoid parent-teacher conferences in an effort to avoid your former spouse. Most parents want to stay as involved as possible and learn how to actively parent the child with the cooperation of the other parent.
In many cases, parents can come to agreement on these matters outside of court. If that isn't possible, however, litigation may be necessary. An experienced family law attorney can provide counsel in all of these matters, as well as represent you throughout the divorce process.