The divorce of parents is typically a traumatic experience for the children of the family. Kids tend to remember the negative emotions of a divorce far more than the positive consequences it may generate in both parents.
Depending on the age of your kids, a divorce can produce a wide range of social, emotional and behavioral symptoms. The good news is that these symptoms typically go away on their own within a year or so. However, there are steps that you and your spouse can take during your divorce to minimize the negative effects of ending your marriage on your children.
Shielding your children from arguments is one important step. Another will be how you handle the divorce itself. You should consider whether it is possible for you and your spouse to file an uncontested divorce, which can reduce the time, money and stress involved in a divorce.
Don’t involve your children in your marital disputes
Just like when you were married, the best approach to handling conflict with your spouse during divorce is to avoid exposing the children to it, if at all possible. If you cannot avoid arguing, schedule some time when the kids are with family members or in school to discuss issues.
Commit to maintaining quiet voices and respectful attitudes when your children are present. The less conflict your children witness, the less emotionally tumultuous the divorce would be for them. Additionally, if they see you working together through the divorce, that will teach them something about responsible ways to handle conflicts and interpersonal relationships.
An uncontested divorce minimizes the pressure on your family
No matter how calm you are when interacting with your children, they can still wind up emotionally damaged due to the things they witness and hear in a courtroom. The process of needing to speak out about where they prefer to live can also be stressful in combative custody proceedings.
Highly contentious divorce proceedings can be difficult for young children, as well as teenagers, who may be more aware of the meaning of what it said and the implications of the divorce. Instead of litigating your divorce, you should seek some way to set your own terms and file an uncontested divorce. This requires that you and your spouse agree on issues like how to divide your assets and split up custody time with the children, which you’ll probably share, in most circumstances.
Setting your own terms outside of divorce, whether you use mediation or another collaborative process, minimizes what your children witness in court. It also helps ensure that both you and your ex have control over the outcome of the divorce process.