Divorce and Children

| | Divorce and Children

One major factor in your divorce that you might be concerned about is how it will affect your children. On this page, I will provide some information on how to help your children through this time.

How Does Divorce Affect Children?

As a parent, your instinct is always to protect your child from hardships and difficulties. Many parents fear that divorce will scar their children for life and rip their families apart. However, this is not necessarily the case. Understanding the truth about divorce and working to maintain a stable home environment for your children will help your entire family through this difficult time.

Common Concerns

Many people think that divorce has a negative effect on children. It is important to keep in mind that this is the case because divorce can be a stressful event. All stressful events and disruptions in routine will have a negative effect on children. Consider, for example, children’s reactions to entering new schools. It is not uncommon for children’s grades to drop and for them to experience a brief period of depression when they transition from elementary to middle school, or from middle to high school. This is because moving to a new school disrupts their routines and makes them feel out-of-place.

But is the transition from middle to high school an emotionally scarring experience that affects children for the rest of their lives? Of course not! Similarly, a divorce might have an initial negative effect on children in that they need to acclimate to their new circumstances. However, once these children do transition into their new lives, they are oftentimes happy and they return to their normal lives.

Other Worries

Another worry when it comes to divorce is that it will cause the children from the marriage to develop behavioral or psychological problems. Again, it is important to look at the facts. While divorce can increase children’s risk of having these types of problems, it does not cause these issues. Parents who have just gone through a divorce should be aware of the warning signs for behavioral and psychological problems, and need to maintain loving and open relationships with their children to ensure that their children can adjust to the divorce as easily as possible. It is easy to misinterpret data about children of divorced parents. Many parents freak out when, immediately after a divorce, their children start acting out, seem depressed, or become uninterested in the priorities that they used to have.

Helping Your Children

It is important to remember to give these kids a break! Divorce can be stressful and effects kids’ daily routines. They need time to adjust to the changes that are going on in their lives. While many children may experience some issues immediately following divorce, these issues are rarely long-term. However, to ensure that your children recover from the divorce, make sure that you maintain a stable home life for them, show that you still love and care for them, and, if possible, allow your ex to be in your children’s lives. These tips will help you and your children cope with the divorce. For more tips on helping your children adjust to a divorce, check out my post on helping your child through divorce, or you can always contact me.

Moving to a New Home

Communication

Talk it out. You should give your kids as much information about the move as possible. Telling them that you will move out soon as you can will help them become accustomed to the idea. Instead of shocking them with the news and expecting them to move within a matter of days or weeks, give the kids as much time as possible to adjust to the idea of moving. Having your spouse involved in this conversation is also a good idea if you are on good terms with your soon-to-be ex. Showing that you and your spouse are still united when it comes to parenting and familial decisions will help your children understand that you are on the same team.

Highlight the pros. If you’re moving to a bigger home, mentioning that your kids will each have their own bedroom can help them come to like the idea of moving. Highlight other great features of the new house, such as a big yard, a pool, having other kids on the street, etc.

Reduce Fears

Calm their fears. Children will naturally begin wondering what will happen to their existing friendships and if they will have to change schools. Assure your children that they will keep in touch with their friends and that they will make new friends in the neighborhood or at the new school. When I moved as a child, the hardest part for me was adjusting to the new school. Help your kids feel excited about the new school and make sure that you visit the school before they start so that they begin to feel comfortable in the new building. If possible, you should consider having your children meet their new teachers before they begin school as well.

Arrange your child’s new bedroom like his or her old one. You can arrange your child’s furniture as it was in his or her old room to make the transition as smooth as possible.

Encourage New Friends

Encourage interaction with new kids in the area. Consider having a party for your children and the kids in the neighborhood so that they can start making friends.

Continue to communicate about the move. Whether your children seem to be adjusting well or not, you should keep the lines of communication regarding the move open. Discuss your children’s emotions with them and do what you can to help with any problems they are having.

Helping Your Child Through Divorce

Divorce can be a devastating experience for you and your spouse. However, if you have a child together, it can be an equally difficult experience for them. No matter what the circumstances of the divorce were, your child’s life will be turned upside down. And even if it was for the best, your child had no say in this decision that is directly affecting them. As a result, you should be sensitive to your child’s needs during this time.

Doing what is best for your child should be a top priority. One of the most important things that you can do is help your child to understand that the divorce is not his or her fault. In an age appropriate way, explain to your child the reason why you and your spouse are getting divorced. This will help your child face a concrete reason instead of the unknown. This will also reduce the likelihood that your child will attribute your fighting and subsequent divorce to something that they did.

You should also refrain from saying bad things about your spouse in front of your child. You and your spouse should sit down with your child and explain the situation clearly to them. This will help your child to understand that you both still love them and that you are both going to remain a part of his or her life. Don’t make your child feel like they have to choose sides. You should refrain from pitting your child against your spouse in fights as well.

Expressing Emotions

Your child should express his or her feelings about the divorce freely. Give them opportunities to ask questions and express his or her feelings. If your child is older, encourage them to express feelings through writing, drawing, or playing music. These creative outlets are good ways to relieve stress. And speaking of stress, there will be a lot of it during this time for your child. Adjusting to the idea of a divorce and the new living situation that will result from the divorce will be hard for your child. Your child might stop paying attention in school, have trouble sleeping, or get into fights with his or her friends. Understand that this is normal behavior as you go through and complete your divorce. But you need to keep on top of this behavior.

Help your child work through this difficult time by tuning into his or her emotions. If your child is acting out, talk to them. Don’t let this behavior go unnoticed. If you are going through a divorce, you might feel consumed with your own needs and desires. However, it is important that you consider the needs of your child as well. Your child needs you and your spouse to stay involved in his or her life. Your child also doesn’t want to see you and your spouse fight during or after the divorce.

Communicating with Your Ex

If you have a child together, you have to put your needs aside and stay amicable so that your child can cope with the divorce as best as possible. Considering the divorce from your child’s point of view will help you to understand what they are going through. By remaining amicable with your spouse during and after the divorce and being clear and honest with your child, you can help them cope with the divorce.

Adjusting to a New School

Sometimes when parents separate, they also choose to sell their marital home. A new and fresh start is what everyone needs after divorce, but children do not always see it this way. A new and fresh start for the family also means new schools and moving away from friends. Kids tend to take moving harder than anyone else because of all the new adjustments they will need to make in their everyday lives. That is why I have compiled a list of things you may do in order to help your children adjust to a new school.

Getting Involved

Be involved from the beginning. Attend orientation with your children or arrange for a tour of the new school so you can be there to help your kids gets acclimated.

Encourage your children to get involved in activities to make friends. If your child has a passion, this will be a great vehicle for them to make friends at a new school. Sign them up for a soccer camp, or research various clubs in the school that your children may be interested in. Joining a club or sport will help your child interact with people that are interested in the same things that they enjoy.

Establish Routine

Keep a daily routine. Keep the same routine as you did at the old house or try to keep it as close to the same as possible. Children need some sort of familiarity in their lives to help with the transition. Have dinner at the same time every night or have a movie night on Fridays to promote family time. Keeping old habits or family activities the same may help your child make their new environment feel like home.

Communication

Talk to your children and let them know that you are there for them. Divorce is hard on kids and so is moving. There must be a lot running through both you and your children’s minds. Sit them down and talk, let them voice their opinions, and have an open mind. Give them advice or just allow them to vent about the divorce. In addition, remain available to talk about new friends that your children have made or activities that they express excitement about in the new school.

It is said that it may take children around six weeks to get acclimated to their new environment after a move. The most important things you must do in order to help your children’s transition is be there for them and maintain some sort of normalcy for them. Talk to your children, attend tours and orientations, and get them involved in activities. Keep normal routines if you can and talk to your children often about their feelings or concerns.

Unsupervised Visitation

There are three major types of visitation. The first is unsupervised visitation. This is the type of visitation that is most commonly awarded in divorce cases. If you have just received unsupervised visitation rights from a court, it means that you can take your children to your new home or on special outings without the intervention of the court.

Keep in mind that just because these visitations are not supervised does not mean that they can occur at any time. You still have to stick to a regular visitation schedule. In some situations, certain restrictions can be placed on unsupervised visitations. For example, if you have a very young child who is still breastfeeding, you might be asked to conduct your visits at his or her primary house until the child is more self-sufficient.

Supervised Visitation

Another type of visitation is supervised visitation. If you can only conduct supervised visitations, it means that another adult has to be present during your visits with your children. In some cases, you will be able to appoint the supervisor of these visits. For example, you could choose your child’s grandparent or another family member to act as a supervisor. In other cases, this supervision is more strict and the court will appoint a social worker or some other designee to be present during your visits.

But, in more relaxed cases, you can still meet with your child in your own home or out on the town. In other cases, the court will appoint a location for you to conduct your visitations. Supervised visitation can be awkward, but try to make your child as comfortable with the situation as possible.

Virtual Visitation

One fairly new type of visitation is virtual visitation. Virtual visitation comes in the form of communicating through email, social media, text messaging, or Skyping. This type of visitation is less common than supervised or unsupervised visitation.

Visitation Refusal

This problem occurs when your child refuses to attend scheduled visitations. Whether you are the custodial or the non-custodial parent, this situation is upsetting and you might not know the best way to approach it. To this end, I would like to provide some tips as to how you can deal with this situation if it ever occurs.

Visitation is mandatory. Remember that neither you nor your child can pick and choose when to attend visitation and when to skip these visits because visitation is mandated by the court. Visitation is something that your child has to do, just like going to school. Sure, there might be some days when your child complains about going to school, but you make them go anyway. Similarly, visitation is not optional.

What to Do

Communicate with your ex and be united. As the custodial parent, you might be worried that your child has a legitimate reason to not want to visit his or her other parent. You might be frustrated with your ex and your instinct might be to blame them. However, you need to refrain from doing that at this time. Likewise, as the noncustodial parent, you are probably hurt when you learn that your child doesn’t want to visit you. You might wonder if your ex is involved in your child’s decision.

Again, refrain from acting on these thoughts. Both parents need to communicate calmly at this time to determine why the child might not want to go and how to make them go. This will show your child that you and your ex are still a team when it comes to raising them.

Listen to your child’s concerns. It is important for you to sit down and discuss with your child why they don’t want to attend visitation. Oftentimes, children have skewed views of reality and talking out problems and showing children the truth can help them get over their anger or resentment. If, after talking to your child, you realize that they have a legitimate gripe with their other parent, encourage them to sit down with that parent and work out the issue. Communication with both parents will help in situations like this one.

Removing a Child From the State Without Permission

While many might think that it is illegal to take a child out of state without the permission of the other parent, this is not always true. In some cases, one parent will need the permission of the court and the other parent to remove the child from the state. Such circumstances might occur in your case, so you should review what you can and can’t do with your lawyer or the court before taking your child out of state.

State law usually governs child custody. Some states do not address the issue of taking a child out of state. If this is the case, you are allowed to take your child out of state without seeking permission from your ex or from the court. In such cases, you will usually be allowed to take your child out of state for short periods of time. This will only be allowed, however, if your travel plans do not interfere with the regular placement agreement you have with your ex.

Keep in mind that while you technically do have the right to leave with your child without asking your ex in such cases, it might not be the best decision to make. Taking your child out of state without discussing the trip with your ex, or without the consent of your ex, might make you seem uncooperative.

Issues with Taking Your Child

Furthermore, your ex could sue you. In most cases, it will be much easier and safer for you to alert your ex to your travel plans. If your court order or parenting agreement states that you cannot leave the state with your child without the consent of your ex, you cannot take your child out of state. A judge might give this court order if they feel that your past behavior indicates that you should not take your child from the state without your ex’s permission.

Furthermore, if you are in the middle of a pending divorce case, and no temporary orders have been assigned yet, you should probably refrain from taking your child out of state without the consent of your child’s other parent. If you take your child out of state without permission, even though it will probably be legal, the uncooperative behavior you showed might affect the custody battle. Don’t forget you must be in compliance with Automatic Orders.

Child’s Home State Requirements

While it might seem like an important part of a divorce case, a child’s home state can greatly affect the process of divorce and a custody battle. Many people don’t understand the qualifications for a child’s home state, however, this can be a deciding factor in a custody battle. The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act of 2011 defines what a child’s home state is and might be used for or against you in a custody battle. As a result, it is important to familiarize yourself with the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act and discuss how it will affect your personal case with your divorce attorney.

UCCJEA

The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act defines a child’s home state as one of the most important factors in a custody case, especially if the child has moved out of state. The home state gets defined as the state where a child has lived with at least one parent for six consecutive months. If the child is under six months of age, the home state is considered to be the state in which the child was born. The home state must be considered because this is the state in which a custody battle for a child can take place. If a child has not lived in one state for six consecutive months, then a state that has significant connections to both the child and at least one parent can be used as a home state.

Furthermore, such a state has to have evidence that the child experienced care, training, or protection in that state. The state considered the home state of the child is where your custody battle, if you and your spouse go through one, will take place. The state considered your child’s home state has jurisdiction over any custody matters that arise. This is important because if you are living in one state but another state is your child’s home state, you will have to fight the custody battle in the other state.

Home State

Furthermore, if you are going through a divorce and want to move your child back to the state where your family lives, you might have problems as a result of where the jurisdiction for the custody battle is. The court in your child’s home state might decide that it is not in your child’s best interest for you to move back to where your family lives with your child. This can further complicate the divorce process and make it more stressful. The question of the child’s home state will have more of a say in your divorce process if you have moved several times. This might make it difficult for you to take your child back to your home state, even if your child was born there.

Keep in mind that the state in which your child was born is not considered their home state under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act. This might put you in a bad situation if you and your spouse have moved around a lot and are now planning on divorcing. You should discuss your situation with your attorney in order to better understand your own case and how home state will affect it.

Parenting Education Classes

Parenting education programs are classes designed to educate adults about the many issues children face when their family situation changes. The programs train participants about how to help children adjust in a healthy way to divorce or living apart from a parent. The programs include information about children’s developmental stages, helping children adjust to parent separation, cooperative parenting, conflict management and dispute resolution techniques, guidelines for visitation and parent access, and stress reduction for children. If you have children under age eighteen, you must participate in a parenting education program within sixty (60) days after a family case goes to court.

All parties involved in divorce, dissolution of a civil union, annulment, separation, custody or visitation cases must participate in a parenting education program. Both judges and family support magistrates have the authority to order your participation in the program.

Divorce with a Disabled Child

Unfortunately, the divorce rate is higher for couples with a child who has a disability than for couples with children who do not have disabilities. Unfortunately, a child with disabilities can put a larger strain on a marriage. This is due to the fact that a child with disabilities creates a greater financial strain for the parents and requires much more attention. As a result, the couple has less alone time to maintain their relationship.

If you face divorce and you have a disabled child, many aspects of the process will have similarities to a divorce of people with a healthy child or no children. You will still have to divide your assets and debt and determine a child custody plan. However, there are some specific differences in divorces where the couple has a disabled child. Understanding these differences can help make your divorce process as easy as possible. If you are facing divorce and you have a child with disabilities, consider the following tips for helping your child through divorce.

Tips

All children crave routine in order to lower their levels of anxiety and depression. This is even more the case for children with disabilities. If your child has disabilities, you need to establish a set daily routine once the divorce ends.

Going along with the above point, you need to create a strict visitation schedule for your child once the divorce ends. You need to work with your ex spouse to find the best time and place for these visitations and to make sure that they remain constant. Your child should maintain a relationship with both parents, making this visitation schedule important.

If you are having financial problems, you can get free special education for your child. Additional services are also available, depending on your situation. In addition, you will have to establish a detailed financial plan to ensure that your child will be properly provided for.

When you split up child custody, you will have to decide on how legal and physical custody will get determined. In addition, you will have to determine a guardian for your child if they are under the age of eighteen. This guardian will have a say in medical and financial decisions for the child.

4 Mistakes to Avoid as a Divorced Parent

Mistake One

Stopping communication with your child’s other parent. In your mind, divorce might mean that you have ceased to have a relationship with your ex-spouse. However, if you have a child with your ex, your relationship should never truly be over. You don’t have to all get together on holidays, but you should be able to keep the line of communication open when it comes to parenting. You and your ex should be making decisions about your child together to make sure that you enforce the same rules in both of your households.

Children, especially teenagers, might be tempted to take advantage of their parents’ lack of communication in order to get what they want. This can lead to poor supervision and bad behavior. To prevent this, you and your spouse should call/text/email a few times a month and make sure you are on the same page when parenting. Children need consistency, and they will not get it if their parents do not communicate.

Mistake Two

Putting your child in the middle. Putting your child in the middle of your divorce or arguments with your ex is never a good idea. Children do not want to feel as though they have to choose sides and can become extremely anxious and unhappy if they feel forced to express dislike for one parent when with the other. It is not fair to put your child in the middle of your problems. For this reason, you should refrain from asking your child questions that force them to pick sides. Keep your negative opinions about your ex to yourself.

Mistake Three

Turning your child into your therapist. Going along with putting your child in the middle of your fights or the divorce is venting to your child about his or her other parent. Even if you do not explicitly ask your child to pick sides, venting about your ex in front of your child will make them feel anxious and uncomfortable. Remember that your child probably loves your ex and might become defensive if they constantly hear you bad-mouthing that parent.

Even if you have problems with your ex, you should not in any way tarnish the relationship that your child has with them.

Mistake Four

Refusing to apologize. Some parents think that apologizing for their wrongdoings is a sign of weakness and will compromise their position as an authority figure. However, this is not the case. Teaching your children that it is ok to admit when you are wrong by doing it yourself is healthy for them and will strengthen your bond. If, upon reflection, you feel that you have made some mistakes over the course of your divorce, let your child know.

3 Tips for Having Your Kids Meet Your Significant Other

Many people have different opinions on the right time and place to introduce a new partner to your children. Should you tell your kids when you are going out on a date? Should you introduce your boyfriend or girlfriend as just a “friend” first? What do you do if your kids don’t like them or the other way around? This can be a stressful experience and you might not know what the best advice to take is. It is important to remember that ultimately, you have to do what you are comfortable with and what you think is best for your children. When you meet someone that you want to date, consider these tips on good ways to introduce them to your children.

No Pressure

The first time that your significant other meets your children should be a casual event. Don’t make a big deal out of it. Don’t pressure your children into liking this person. Saying things like, “Cindy loves horses just like you! You guys are going to be best friends!” or, “Make sure you are on your best behavior when Mike visits” will put too much pressure on your kids. You can’t force them to like your boyfriend or girlfriend. It will take them some time to get to know the person you are dating and form their own opinions about them.

Let this be a natural process. In addition, it might be a good idea to let your children meet your boyfriend or girlfriend in a group setting. Have a party for the neighborhood and invite your significant other to attend, or invite them to go out to dinner with you, you kids, and some other friends. Again, make this encounter stress-free. The more people around, the more fun and relaxed the environment.

Take Things Slow

The first few times that your kids meet your boyfriend or girlfriend, you don’t even have to introduce them this way. You can just say that they are a friend. This way, you can feel out how your children feel about them and vice versa before putting the idea of a relationship and the pressure that that can bring on your children. You should also wait to show public signs of affection with your significant other until your children become used to the new situation.

No One Gets Replaced

Make it clear to your children that despite this new person in your life, they have one mother and one father. Your new boyfriend or girlfriend is not trying to replace your children’s other parent and never could. If you have a good relationship with your ex, you might want to make this clear to them as well. Make sure your ex knows that they are still an important part of your children’s lives and nothing will replace that.

Introducing a new boyfriend or girlfriend to your children can be stressful. You want everything to go well, but you are probably concerned that it won’t.

One of the most important things to do before introducing your children to someone new is consider if this relationship has potential to last. You should consider this a serious, long-term relationship before having your children meet them. You know your children! Consider how you think they will react to meeting a new boyfriend or girlfriend of yours, and pick up on signals that they give off once meeting them to determine the next step to take.

Maintaining a Relationship with Your Children after Divorce

If you have been estranged from your child as the result of a divorce, it is never too late to rebuild your relationship. Even if you have limited visitation or if you have a poor relationship with your child’s other parent, you can still find a way to remain a presence in your child’s life.

Young Children

If you are trying to reconnect with a young child after divorce, you should refrain from making your child uncomfortable when you are with them. Refrain from speaking poorly of your child’s other parent in front of the child. Don’t ask your child to choose sides in arguments that you may have with your ex-spouse. Do not ask questions that will make your child choose between his or her parents, such as “Do you have more fun when you’re with me?” or “Don’t you like me better?” These questions will do more harm than good and could alienate your child from you.

You should also remain a presence in your child’s life so they know that you want a relationship and you will not abandon them. Attend special events such as birthdays and holidays, and spend quality time with your child. If you have scheduled visitation dates, don’t cancel or miss them. Remain a constant in your child’s life, even if you can only see them a few days out of the month. By continuing a physical presence in your child’s life, they will feel more comfortable with you and will adjust to the new living situations.

If you have moved away from your ex-spouse and children, you can still keep in touch. Make the effort to send regular letters to your child or set up weekly phone calls. Also send letters on special occasions. Instead of spending money on pricey gifts to earn your child’s affection, save up that money to put toward a plane ticket so that you can see your child.

Older Children

If you are trying to reconnect with an older or adult child, you should act slightly differently. An older teen or adult will form his or her own opinions on your divorce, and pressing a relationship onto your child could make them more reluctant to see you. Ensure that your child knows that you want to maintain a relationship and that you are willing to make time to meet or talk, but you should not force a meeting until your child is ready.

Keep your phone calls or letters friendly but be aware of the level of responsiveness that your child gives. If they do not respond, you might want to back off for a little while and let them come to you. Maintaining or repairing a relationship with a child after divorce can be difficult. However, most children are receptive to contact from their parents. If you show your child that you have not abandoned them by remaining a presence in their life, you should be able to maintain a strong relationship.

2017-03-25T02:20:52+00:00