Getting divorced is not a fun process. The paperwork, the court cases, the emotional turmoil, and more make divorcing a difficult season of life. Adding kids to the mix can make things more complicated. However, it doesn’t have to be a total nightmare. If you invest some time and effort into helping your kids through the divorce and make good decisions about how to go about the process, things can go much more simply and smoothly. Here are a few ways to make sure you and your kids experience a smooth divorce.
Prepare the Kids
Divorces are difficult to go through, but they can be even more emotionally, legally, and financially taxing if children are involved. To make the divorce process go more smoothly, it is important to recognize the needs of children and put them first. In order to help kids handle the divorce process, it is important to prepare them in advance. Find a good time to explain the situation to your children, making sure they know what is going to happen and are reassured that they will be okay. Children often blame themselves for their parents’ separation, and they need to be reassured that nothing they did or did not do contributed to the divorce. Once the kids know about the divorce, it is important to listen to how they feel about it and remove their fears while validating their emotions.
Once the divorce procedure is underway, parents should try to keep things as normal as possible. Make every effort to retain the normal day-to-day routine. This is make things seem less scary, and it will also provide a smooth transition into the new way of life after the divorce. Both parents must commit to staying in their children’s lives during and after the divorce. Keeping relationships with both parents strong is important to help kids get through a divorce smoothly, and it will help as parents have to work together to raise the children after the process is finalized.
Parents should never, ever let kids see the conflict and tension that may exist between parents during a divorce. Legal and emotional matters pertaining to the divorce are not things that children need to know about or witness. In addition, while there may be significant division between parents, kids should never get the feeling that they need to pick one side or the other. Both parents need to focus on helping the children through the process rather than putting blame on each other.
Off course, all of these things are dependent on the situation. If one parent is abusive or unfit for parenting, it may be difficult for the child to be able to maintain a close relationship. However, if it is possible for parents to be around their children regularly, this is certainly a more ideal scenario.
Get Child-Centered Divorce Services
Parents should receive divorce counseling before and during their separation. Children also benefit from counseling during the divorce process so that they also have a chance to work through their emotions. However, parental divorce counseling should happen without children present. Counseling is a time when a divorcing couple can work through conflict with a mediator present; it is essential for all divorcing couples, but it is especially important if children are involved. Every couple disagrees sometimes, but children should never have to witness situations of high tension, conflict, or physical violence. Children can recover from a divorce, but they have a much harder time moving past stressful conflict in their homes.
Most divorces involving children will require difficult decisions regarding custody. If worst comes to worst and a custody battle ensues, it’s important to keep the children out of the conflict. However, in order to keep a divorce simple and civil it is best to decide custody arrangements out of court, using a mediator to help both parties maintain perspective. Custody decisions should be based on what is best for the children, even if the final decision is difficult on the parents. A counselor can help parents make these tough decisions without creating more conflict or damaging parent-child relationships.
Choose Divorce Mediation
Rather than drag yourselves through an emotional and difficult court case, it is often better to choose mediation to make decisions for your divorce, including custody. You can find quality mediation services by court referral or through an agency. According to SplitSimple, a Chicago Divorce Mediation Service, it’s important to select a mediator with an extensive knowledge of divorce law and plenty of experience in the field. Rather than pit one parent against the other as is often the case in a court of law, a mediator can help parents to work through their decisions in a way that promotes a parenting relationship that can set a positive precedent for future interactions.
Money, Money, Money
There’s nothing like money troubles to escalate the already-stressful divorce process. Lawyer fees and hidden costs can stack up to dizzying heights, exacerbating existing issues. Fortunately, this can be avoided. There are many divorce services that offer flat-rate costs. This means that you can see the rate for everything up front and choose a cost that works for you. Everything is included: the divorce itself, custody arrangements, property division, and various claims. Keeping down costs can keep down stress and conflict as well.