What Is a Child-centered Divorce?
About 72% of divorces take place within 14 years of marriage, which means that many young children experience the life-changing stress of living through this process. The long, drawn-out process of divorce can have life-altering effects on a child’s mental and physical health, and it puts their own future marriages at a higher risk of divorce. One way parents can mitigate these effects on their children is to work with a divorce lawyer who offers child-centered divorce services.
Set Your Priorities
When you or your spouse file for a divorce, you’ll have to consider what’s the most important part of the process. Many people focus on who gets the house or who keeps the family dog. In many cases, the children aren’t the first, second or even third priority. A child-centered divorce coordinated by a divorce lawyer ensures that the child or children are prioritized over everything else.
Agree on One Thing
You and your soon-to-be ex-spouse might disagree on almost everything. After all, that’s why you’re getting divorced. However, it’s important to agree on at least one item: Your children are the most important part of your lives. You both love your children more than anyone else in the world, and you want what is best for them no matter what. Once you can agree to this, you can move forward with a child-centered divorce.
What a Child-Centered Divorce Does
A child-centered divorce protects your children from emotional trauma. It also reduces their risk of developing a mental health disorder as a result of living through your divorce. Focusing on your child’s emotional needs could lower their risk of developing anxiety, depression or post-traumatic stress disorder. While a child-centered divorce won’t spare feelings of sadness or anger, it can mitigate them and make them easier for you and your child to manage.
Stay Out of Court
The first step in a child-centered divorce is staying out of the courtroom as much as possible. Going to court is costly, time-consuming and anxiety-provoking. The more time you spend in court, the more conflict your children witness. Working with a divorce mediator or with an attorney who has experience in the collaborative divorce process will help you minimize the amount of time you have to be in court.
Focus on the Future
Think ahead to five years from now. How would you want your child to view the experience of having their parents divorce? If you carry the burden of the divorce-related stress and help your child feel safe and loved, they may look at the experience as a way mature adults handle disagreements and how people can move forward with their lives in peace and with mutual respect.
Build Your Relationship With Your Child
Even though your marriage fell apart, your relationship with your child doesn’t have to follow the same path. Regularly ask your child how they feel. Spend time doing something fun with your child. If you’ve always enjoyed cooking together, playing at the playground or going to the beach, keep up those important traditions. You’ll be making positive memories that outshine the stressors of divorce. Maintaining rapport and trust with your child will solidify a lifelong positive relationship.
Recovery after a divorce could take a year or two for you and your child. Be patient with your child’s feelings and how they express them. Cut your child some slack on occasion. Some children may be more needy during and after their parents’ divorce while others might act out in order to get more attention. It’s okay to ask your child about their actions, but do it from a place of curiosity rather than one of frustration or anger.
Pennsylvania parents who are interested in a child-centered divorce may benefit from scheduling a consultation with an experienced family lawyer. Contact the Law Office of Joanne Kleiner at (215) 886-1266, or fill out our contact form to request an appointment at our Jenkintown office.