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Divorce-related conflict can be damaging to children

| Feb 17, 2017 | Divorce

Divorce is stressful for everyone involved. That is particularly true for any children in the family. The dissolution of their previous family unit can be a source of fear, anxiety, anger and even depression in children and teenagers.

While every family’s situation is different, in the vast majority of divorces, anger between the divorcing parents can make the process more difficult for their children. During divorce, it can be hard to agree on much with your former spouse. Hopefully, you can agree to protect your children as much as possible from conflict and animosity.

Agreeing to do your best to minimize the direct impact on your kids doesn’t mean you can’t still protect your best interests. There are many ways that you can protect yourself and your children during a divorce.

Divorce is very difficult for children

Unless there’s a clear-cut reason for the divorce, such as abuse, children will typically struggle when their family changes. Young children may become more dependent. They may regress and act in more juvenile ways. Adolescents and teenagers, on the other hand, may lash out and exhibit defiant behavior. Alternatively, they may withdraw and become increasingly independent. Parents dealing with these issues need to offer their children support and even access to professional therapy.

Hearing their parents complain about or testify about one another can be hard on children. So can being required to testify themselves. Being asked to provide input as to their preferred custodial parent can create strong feelings, too.

Mediation is an ideal way to protect your children

It can be difficult to sit down and talk out the various issues of your divorce, but it can be worthwhile. Both you and your former spouse (along with your attorneys) meet with a neutral third party, who will help you negotiate mutually agreeable compromises on all of the various issues of your divorce. This arrangement, also called collaborative divorce, prevents the children from needing to testify or witness testimony during the divorce proceedings. This can help shield them from the worst emotional effects of the divorce.

There are other ways to protect your children during a divorce. Never put your child in the middle, and try your best to set a positive example by interacting civilly with one another. You can still negotiate with the help of your attorney for a fair division of assets and custody agreement. You and your former spouse can work with a mediator to create a fair and equitable divorce arrangement. Even if you go to court, try to protect your children from the details and any negative emotions between you and their other parent.