An Orange County child custody attorney has witnessed the brutal impact a divorce can have on children. They have also seen the divorces conducted with the best interest of the children in mind.
Let’s take a look at what makes the difference.
The Effects of Divorce on Children
Every year, approximately 1.5 million children in the U.S. watch their parents go through a divorce. Others live in an unhappy home filled with tension and conflict, but the parents stay together in an effort to protect their children from the negative effects and destabilization divorce can bring.
Research shows that there are benefits and drawbacks to each approach.
The Negative Effects of Divorce
A child support lawyer Orange County sees the effects of divorce on children every day. The initial experience of seeing their parents separate and finding themselves living in two homes leads to several emotional and behavioral challenges.
Feelings of anger, anxiety, fear, sadness, and neediness may arise on a child who is in disbelief that their parents are divorcing.
The resulting academic and emotional problems, as well as disruptive behaviors, are a coping method and a cry for attention. Some children respond by becoming withdrawn while others show signs of aggression.
The good news is that children are resilient. After a year or two, long-term studies show that these initial problems often reside as the child grows accustomed to their new living arrangements.
Every family is, of course, different, but research tells us that there are steps parents can take to reduce the negative effects of divorce on their children. As long as at least one parent remains loving and committed to a child’s welfare, they can actually benefit from parents that decide to leave a loveless, contentious-filled marriage in order to pursue a happy and fulfilling life.
Steps Parents Can Take to Help Their Children Through a Divorce
Children fare better if at least one of their parents, preferably both, practice the following:
- Commit to spending time each week with the children. Create a parenting plan that allows for quality time with each parent. Of course, if one parent is abusive, the parenting plan and divorce settlement should seek to protect them from the dysfunctional parent. An Orange County child custody attorney can help parents reach an agreement by providing a safe noncombative space through mediation.
- Maintain economic security. One of the common challenges is maintaining financial well-being when parents go from supporting one household to two. This takes a conscious effort on the part of both parents, which leads to children that feel secure and safe, despite their new living arrangements.
- Provide social support. Retaining a sense of community and spending time with extended family helps children adapt and overcome their fears of separation.
- Teach good coping skills. While the process of divorce is painful for both parents and children, it provides the opportunity to learn how to cope in the midst of life’s challenges.
- Be honest. For children, not knowing can be one of the most frightening aspects of a divorce. Many children feel some responsibility in their parent’s decision to divorce and, therefore, the need to try and bring them back together. Keep the children out of the dark by telling them what is happening in a simple and straightforward manner. Don’t lay blame. Let them know it is not their fault and that you both love them and will always be their parents.
- Seek professional help. If a child appears withdrawn or acting out for long periods of time, get them the help they need. This could come in the form of counseling or a child specialist.
- Provide love and encouragement. A child needs warmth and affection to really thrive. Make sure the bitterness of a divorce does not create emotional wounds that affect the whole of your life—including the children.
- Co-parent in a healthy manner. Despite the anger or distrust that may have developed during the marriage, now is the time to put the past behind and make a consolidated effort to raise the children in an amicable fashion. Children with cooperative parents fair much better than those with parents who continue their disputes long after the ink on the divorce settlement has dried.
- Choose mediation over litigation. Reduce the impact of divorce by leaving the children out of contentious divorce proceedings.
Despite the challenges inherent in divorce, family members can make the transition in a healthy manner that minimizes the negative effects on the children. This starts with the divorce process and not using the children as a means to negatively impact the other parent.
The Benefits of Mediation Over Litigation
Anger, fear, sadness, hurt are all emotions that often overwhelm family members going through a divorce, which can lead to one of the parties wanting to make the other party pay for perceived slights.
Unfortunately, one of the effects of this type of behavior is to place the children in the middle of the divorce proceedings.
Putting pressure on the children to pick a side can have long-term damaging effects. Long custody disputes can result in continued stress and harm.
In some cases, parents go so far as to encourage a child to reject the other parent, a divisive and troubling scenario that results in wounds that are slow to heal.
In the end, no one really wins. A judge decides what is in the best interests of the children and if one or both parents have physical or legal custody.
During mediation, these vital decisions are decided by the parents. Together, they develop a parenting plan that determines when the children will spend time with each of the parents and whether one or both parents will be responsible for the decisions that affect their welfare.
Parents that know their children and their family’s many intricacies make the decisions that will affect them for years to come.
Work With a Trusted Child Support Lawyer Orange County
As an Orange County child custody attorney, we know that there is a better way. As family law specialists and certified mediators, our commitment is always to uphold the best interests of the children. In order to accomplish this, we recommend mediation before litigation.
A mutually agreed-upon divorce settlement and parenting plan lead to better follow-through and happier parents and children.
Of course, if a compromise is out of the question, we will fight for our client’s and their children’s rights. For a complimentary consultation, contact us at the Law Offices of Hollie A. Lemkin today.