An estimated 50 percent of American children will witness the divorce of their parents. While many community and school programs exist to help kids deal with the difficulties of having a broken family, parents still need to do their part in addressing post-divorce stress or depression. It’s important to protect children from any bitter feuds that may emerge between the adults involved in the separation.
The Effect of Divorce on Children
Although angry or disillusioned spouses may see a divorce as the end to their woes, children often view divorce as the beginning of a bleak existence without both parents in the home. Even if the marriage has been noticeably rocky, many children harbor the dream of maintaining a nuclear family structure as they grow up. While some divorces proceed amicably when assisted by a qualified Hackensack divorce attorney, others are fraught with tension and arguments that sometimes spill over into the lives of watchful children. Here are some helpful tips recommended by our highly respected Bergen County divorce lawyer on how to protect kids from the fallout of divorce.
Don’t argue in front of the kids. Instead, you should:
- Discuss issues when the children are not around
- Maintain civility toward the other spouse
- Spend time apart from the other spouse if tensions persist
Never use children as go-betweens. Serious problems could arise if you ask kids to:
- Carry messages to an ex-spouse
- Spy on an ex-spouse or provide specific information
- Take sides or choose one parent over the other
It’s important to provide support and understanding to children during the divorce process. This should include:
- Being honest about what is going to happen
- Encouraging children to express their emotions and concerns
- Reinforcing the family structure through shared activities, faith or therapy if needed
Be Prepared to Address Changes
A legal separation and divorce that’s handled by a competent Bergen County divorce attorney can take months, if not years, to complete. This is a very long time in a child’s life. During that period, many changes will take place. One parent could move to a new location, or both parents may vacate the marital home and share custody of the kids in their new respective residences. One parent may be the custodial parent, or children could divide their time between the homes of both parents.
Parents can ease this transition by making productive decisions about the children’s health care, education and possible religious teachings. When parents cannot agree, our Hackensack family lawyer may ask the court to step in and guide the process. Third parties may encourage parents to make decisions based on the following principles:
- The overall convenience for the family
- The children’s best interests
- The shared parental cost and duties
Working With Our Hackensack Family Attorney
Our child custody lawyer and the court will expect both parents to share expenses and contribute fairly. Departures from the established budget or proposed schedule changes are a potential source of disagreement that should be civilly navigated without involving or distressing the children. It’s important to note that all types of families can experience problems during custody battles.
Overall, kids should never be made to feel that they are the cause of the divorce or are making life harder for one or both parents. If discipline issues arise, they should be handled in a responsible manner without undue stress.
When feasible, both parents should speak favorably about each other or at least not criticize each other in front of the kids. Infidelity, abuse or financial insolvency can be explained to kids on an age-appropriate basis. You may also consider the following tips:
- Provide only the information that is needed.
- Avoid venting about the other parent to kids.
- Point toward hopeful future change or outcomes.
Getting the Necessary Assistance
A child who displays signs of heightened stress, emotional turmoil or difficulty adjusting to new family arrangements may benefit by seeing a doctor or a therapist. Some kids need more time than others to get used to a divorce. If your child needs a little extra help, this does not mean that you’re failing as a parent. It’s also important to have a team of family and friends to provide support.
For more information about family law, contact our experienced Hackensack divorce lawyer at the Law Offices of Kelly Berton Rocco by calling (201) 343-0078. We’re prepared to offer the legal support you need to get through the divorce process.