How Can I Have a Child-Centered Divorce?
If you and your ex-partner are able to set aside your own issues in divorce, you will have a better understanding of how both of your actions and decisions impact your children’s overall well-being. A child-centered divorce will ensure that your children’s best interests remain a top priority as you work together to resolve your issues. An experienced lawyer will walk you through every step of the child-centered divorce process so that you can reach the best possible agreement.
In a child-centered divorce, the parents make a conscious decision to prioritize the needs of their children over their own. Too often, parents make an already difficult situation worse by fighting in front of the children or using them as bargaining chips. However, parents who make a concerted effort to set aside their problems in an effort to make the divorce process as quick as possible are more likely to have a healthier, more productive relationship going forward. For example, both parents should maintain their children’s extracurricular activities with as few interruptions as possible. Ultimately, the children are more likely to get through the divorce process easier because their parents made it a priority to focus on their health and happiness.
It is also important to understand that it is never too late to use a child-centered divorce strategy. Even if you got off on the wrong foot, you can regroup and focus your attention back to your children. In fact, by taking a more positive and respectful approach to the divorce process, you are setting a good example. Your children may learn to be more resilient as well.
Once you have made the decision to proceed with a child-centered divorce, the following steps will ensure that your children are a top priority during the process and going forward.
Children are very observant and they pick up on even the most subtle behavioral changes. If you and your ex-partner have decided to proceed with a divorce, it is highly recommended that you sit down as a family and have an open, honest conversation about what is going on and how it will impact them.
Oftentimes, when children do not understand what is going on, they become worried, stressed, and overwhelmed. Even though it can be a difficult conversation, it will ease their fears and help make the transition easier.
Most importantly, assure your children that even though you and your ex-spouse will be living apart, you both love the children very much and that the divorce is not their fault. Give them the opportunity to ask questions about visitation, child custody arrangements, and any other issues that will directly impact them.
Avoid Going to Court if Possible
There are a number of out-of-court options available, including mediation or a collaborative divorce. Mediation involves an impartial third party who helps both parties come to a mutually beneficial solution. In a collaborative divorce, both parties are represented by an attorney, but they agree to work together to resolve their issues without going to court.
Studies show that fighting between parents has more of a negative impact on children than the divorce itself. For the sake of your children’s emotional well-being, avoid yelling at each other, making insulting remarks, or losing your temper in front of them.
You can commit to peaceful co-parenting by taking the following steps:
- Agree to not argue in front of the children.
- Do not make negative comments about your ex-spouse to your children.
- Be prompt when picking up or dropping off children for custody changes.
- If you and your ex-partner are not on friendly terms, communicate via text and keep your texts brief and to the point.
Consider the Timing of the Divorce
In most cases, you and your ex-spouse can decide when to start the divorce process. If you are entering into a child-centered divorce, it is important that you consider important dates and activities in your children’s lives and plan around them. For example, do not start the divorce when your child is about to start school. It is also not a good idea to start the divorce around the holidays, birthdays, or other major family events.
Focus on Recovery
If you and your ex-spouse are going through a difficult divorce, try not to focus on getting back at them. Instead, think about how your actions will impact your children and take proactive steps to help your children recover.
Make sure that they feel safe and loved, regardless of which parent they are with, and keep the lines of communication open and honest. Avoid talking to your children about the settlement proposal or financial matters. They only need to know that their parents care for them and they are loved and supported.
Prioritize Your Relationship With Your Children
Talk to you children about how they are feeling about the divorce and the impact it is having on their lives. In addition, it is important to pay attention to any obvious or subtle behavioral changes.
Oftentimes, children try very hard to reassure their parents that nothing is wrong, particularly if they see you or the other parent as vulnerable. However, there are some common signs that your child may be struggling. For example, if your child is normally very social and loves spending time with friends but has been coming straight home from school and going immediately to their room, they may be having a difficult time adjusting. If your child’s grades suddenly start to plummet, this is another red flag that your child is in need of support and attention.
Consider the Best Living Situation
Maintaining a stable and predictable routine is important for your children’s emotional and mental health. Therefore, it is important to determine the living situation that is going to provide the children with the most stable and positive environment.
One option that works for some families is nesting, which is a child-centered custody agreement where the child stays in the house and the parents take turns being in the home with the child. This prevents children from having to go from one parent’s house to the other’s house based on the terms of a custody agreement. They do not have to adjust to a new space or try to remember where they will be from one night to the next. This arrangement provides the comfort, stability, and routine that children need. However, this only works if the parents are able to keep the lines of communication open and honest and they are willing to take proactive steps to resolve conflicts.
Somerville Divorce Lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. Assist Clients With Child-Centered Divorces
If you and your ex-spouse have decided to divorce and want to ensure that your children’s best interests remain a priority, our Somerville divorce lawyers at Lyons & Associates, P.C. can help. Our skilled and compassionate legal team will ensure that you reach a fair divorce agreement that focuses on what is best for your children. To schedule a free consultation, call us at 908-575-9777 or contact us online. Located in Somerville and Morristown, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout Somerset, Woodbridge, Morristown, Parsippany, Rockaway, Short Hills, Chatham, Randolph, Madison, and Morris Plains.