Navigating a Divorce with Children Involved
About 50% of American children will experience a parental divorce at some point. Even when the decision to divorce is the best thing for the kids involved, this is still a stressful and difficult time. It’s important that parents navigate divorce with children the right way to minimize the mental and emotional toll on their little ones.
Here, we’re going to discuss the basics of separating when children are involved. Read on to learn how to talk with your kids, determine custody agreements, and more.
Talking to Children About Divorce
Children are going to ask questions immediately after you inform them of your divorce. The specifics of these questions will depend on their age. Younger kids may not even know what divorce is, so you might need to start with the basics.
Don’t shy away from any questions that they have. Being secretive will likely make them anxious and confused in an already stressful time.
It also may make them more curious so they seek out answers elsewhere. You don’t want them learning about divorce from inaccurate websites or misinformed classmates. Be open, honest, and transparent.
You and the other parent need to make time to sit down with your child and tell them what’s happening. Stress that you love them and both plan to remain part of their lives. Tell them about potential life changes like visitation, school changes, and more.
Openness is key, and informing children of how you plan to meet their emotional needs is even more important.
What About Special Situations?
If you and your ex are simply fighting your way through an acrimonious divorce, your children don’t need to know about your resentment for each other. In fact, they shouldn’t.
It’s important to remain cordial in front of the kids regardless of how difficult that is. Fighting and arguing can be traumatic. It could even make them feel aggressive and decrease their cognitive skills.
Remember that both parents are important to the child. Put their needs first by remaining civil.
However, there are special cases including:
- Situations of domestic violence
- One parent leaving the children as well as the spouse
- A parent being in jail
In these cases, you may need the help of a family therapist to explain what’s happening to the children. If you don’t feel equipped to handle a sensitive and potentially triggering topic, take yourself and your child to a professional that will help you explain the situation.
Determining Custody Arrangements
There are multiple types of custody arrangements available to parents. In cases of regular divorce, you likely will retain joint custody of the child.
Sharing custody means that both parents will be involved in decisions regarding the kids. Some decisions might include education, moral development, and medical care.
This can be challenging when parents don’t live together. Children may spend the school week with one parent and the weekends with the other if you live nearby. They may spend the school year with one parent and breaks with the other if you don’t live in the same state or region.
Hiring a divorce lawyer can help you figure out the right type of custody arrangement in your situation. An attorney can discuss realistic possibilities, visitation rights, and more. They also can help you figure out how to talk to children about the divorce’s impact on their daily lives, location, and education.
In the best-case scenario, you and your ex will be able to decide on a custody arrangement with minimal issues. You will sit down with a mediator and focus on what’s best for the kids. Being civil and realistic can save you and your children a lot of stress.
However, in some cases, a custody battle is inevitable. You’ll first need to attempt mediation or prove why doing so is hopeless. Domestic abuse cases are usually the ones with hopeless mediation.
In a custody battle, you’ll need to:
- Work with a lawyer to gather evidence to support custody-related arguments
- Give your ex-spouse copies of this evidence in a process known as “discovery”
- Present your side at a trial/hearing
- Adhere to the plan that the court rules as best for the child
Do not overly involve your children in the process of a custody battle. They do not need to hear about your bitter arguing. However, you might work with a lawyer or therapist to discuss the child’s needs and wants when it comes to their living situation and education.
Many custody battles end in sharing custody. However, if domestic violence or neglect is present, one parent may be awarded full custody.
In these cases, the other parent may or may not end up with supervised visitation. It’s important that you are fully aware of all specifics regarding custody. Both parents need to know their rights.
Figuring Out Finances
Families with joint custody need to determine which parent is responsible for the child’s financial needs. In some cases, one parent may pay for their education and travel needs while the other buys food and daily necessities. In other situations, parents may pay for all needs when they are looking after the child.
This is something to discuss with a lawyer present. Make an agreement in writing. Fill out legally-binding paperwork to protect both parties.
In situations where one parent gets full custody, child support and alimony payments may be in order. This means that the absent parent pays a certain amount monthly to contribute to the child’s upkeep. It may happen in situations where one parent chooses to give up the child or after situations of abuse/neglect.
You’ll need to go through the courts to determine the ins and outs of child support payments. An experienced attorney can help to get you the highest possible sum.
Have a Smooth Divorce With Children Involved
Now that you know some tips to make a divorce with children less stressful, it’s time to begin looking for a family attorney. Family Attorneys Near Me is committed to offering free information and resources for family legal issues.
We’ll help you find a divorce/custody lawyer to help you navigate this difficult time. Contact us with any questions you have about finding an attorney, the consultation process, and beyond.