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How to Prepare Your Children For Divorce

The decision to end your marital union after years of being a stable family does not come easy. Complexities increase when there are young children involved as their lives must continue after the family unit has changed. We have encountered many cases where divorcing parents fail to see eye to eye and their children get caught up in the hatred.

Name-calling, bad communication (or lack thereof), refusing to pay bills, etc. are some of the adverse outcomes that impact children's lives now. These undesired effects can last in the years following the divorce decree, and they can manifest in many ways. San Diego Divorce Attorney understands how divorces can affect children's lives physically, financially, and legally. We have prepared this article so your divorce can go as seamless as possible.

  1. Seek Physical Protection

Angry spouses can sometimes cross over to domestic violence, and these incidences can put children in harm's way. You could be separating from an alcoholic husband who often strikes you and channels his anger issues into physical aggression that may have marked your marriage. The battery can happen inside marriage or with someone you cohabit with a long-term boyfriend. California Penal Code Section 243 defines assault as any purposive and unlawful touching of a spouse in an offensive way.

Maybe he beats the children or throws things at them, or he locks you out of your marital home? You must protect children from scenarios where physical violence is imminent and protect yourself too. The last thing you want is to visit the emergency room with broken bones or worse due to domestic disputes. 

We advise clients who have been victims of domestic violence in their marriage to file a police report so they can get protection from their angry spouse. Depending on the circumstances, the police may remove the threat and have the person in custody, so they don't threaten physical harm. Do not make excuses for a violent partner who has made staying in the relationship impossible in the first place.

Serving them with papers could push them over the edge and lead them to go overboard so they can hurt you before you are completely divorced. Do not wait for this unfortunate incident as it could mean life or death at the hands of an abusive spouse. We can arrange how you can get a temporary restraining order (TRO) to ensure that the person stays within a safe distance from you and the kids. 

  1. Have a Candid Conversation

Speaking to children about grown-up stuff is not the most natural thing in the world, and most parents would instead brush things over and hope for the best. The divorce conversation is one that you cannot afford to shelve until a more appropriate time as children may already sense something is amiss. Watching their parents barely speaking and sleeping in separate bedrooms, or one parent moving out are some of the clues that children can observe without your help.

You should agree on the reasons for separating, and what this life-altering news means for the children. Where will they live? Are you selling the house? Who did something wrong? Children of various ages can blame themselves for divorce, and this only places undue pressure on their emotions. Be clear that your children were not responsible for your marriage unraveling and avoid assigning blame on each other.

You need to shield the kids from disliking or hating one parent for causing the divorce, as this can ruin their relationship with that parent. Older children may figure out what caused the divorce, but they are better equipped to deal with emotions as compared to younger children. Be as forthright as necessary without giving away unnecessary details that may confuse them.

Attempting to conceal things or refusing to give children a heads-up until one partner is walking out of the door is cruel and may harm them permanently. Imagine a three-year-old coming home to see their dad packing things and driving off without an explanation? This harrowing scene from the movies happens more often than we care to imagine, and it is preventable through careful planning.

  1. Assure them of Your Continued Love

Having two formerly loving children not want to be in the same room, let alone stay married is hard for children of all ages. Explain to them your marital issues will not interfere with how you raise them and profess your unwavering love for them. Children need psychological safety during and after divorce so they can adjust to the new life without much difficulty.

Psychologists note that children of divorce are more susceptible to emotional problems, behavioral problems, and negative feelings as compared to people from stable families. Witnessing parents fight over custody, property, fidelity, substance abuse, and so on cannot be easy for anyone, especially children in the impressionable age. They may grow up with distorted perceptions about relationships with lovers, and this may infiltrate into working relationships.

Older children may stay away from homes, such as never going home during college breaks or essential holidays like Christmas. They may prefer to seek the affection they missed from other people, and such behavior is often seen in serial daters who cannot commit to relationships. More so, children of divorce may experiment with sex, alcohol and drugs, and hostile behavior earlier than usual. Teens may become promiscuous and inclined for drugs to numb their emotional pain, not to mention the sickening sense of abandonment after divorce.

If children are assured of love and they can see it post-divorce, they will feel more secure and not feel the need to find distractions. Disillusionment may be the best thing for them as they get to see parents who respect each other as opposed to the chronic conflicts that plague lousy marriage. What's more, children can learn from watching you grow from a bad relationship to meeting new partners and nurturing new and healthy relationships with them.

  1. Maintain Daily Routines

Divorce or not, children must continue going to school, attending extra-curricular activities, weekends at the neighborhood park, etc. Avoid changing these routines as this will undermine the structure you have created for the family.

If the parents are not getting along during separation and divorce, we recommend assigning duties such that each spouse knows what is required of them. For instance, the working spouse can take care of weekend activities while the non-working spouse picks up the kids from school. Leaving only one parent doing the heavy lifting sends the wrong message to children; they may assume the non-engaged parent is not interested in them.

Daily routines also help to keep children away from the drama that usually comes with many divorces. If the kids stay in school, go camping, visit their grandparents, etc., they leave you with ample time to sort out marital issues. You could use this time for therapy sessions or consulting with divorce attorneys. You can also have the property, and the items therein valued to aid with the division of assets accrued during the marriage.

Routines also mean less time for children to notice that things are amiss. For instance, parents can avoid heated arguments until the kids are off to school or away on weekends. These activities keep the children busy, so they stay abreast of everything at school and are not left behind. If the separation and divorce process has reached a tipping point, these routines alleviate tension for your children.

  1. Spare Children from Drama

Even the most amicable divorces come with some unwanted drama from one or both spouses as they iron issues such as the division of assets. Child custody is another thorny issue that sparks a never-ending war between parents who are keen to get full custody over the other parent.

Statistics indicate that women initiate divorce at twice the rate than men, and 90% of abused wives end up fighting for their children's custody. Moreover, 65% of divorced mothers lack the necessary child support, and this means sinking into debt and living below the federal poverty guidelines.

When child custody and financial support of children and alimony are involved, it is not atypical to find one parent drumming up support from the kids. The goal is to make them find one parent more appealing and thereby help with custody proceedings.

Putting the children's needs aside, warring spouses often use children as pawns to hurt the other person. In this case, they use unsavory methods to make the other parent appear unfit. These tactics are a disservice to your children, and they have ramifications now and in the future. For instance, an alcoholic father may wield his power to get child custody, so he is not forced to pay child support to the mother of his children.

Living with a more financially capable parent does not guarantee the best life as this father could neglect his duties while he is out drinking. He may expose the kids to drinking at an early age knowingly or inadvertently by leaving alcohol within reach. 

San Diego Divorce Attorney advises parents to deliberate on child custody and financial support with qualified family law attorneys so they can reach an agreeable arrangement. Putting the needs of children above revenge and other motives is vital, so the kids don't get hurt more than necessary.

  1. Post-Divorce Preparations

Preparing to break the news of a pending divorce is unnerving, and you may agonize over this decision for a while. As you plan to inform the children, you must also think about life after the divorce decree is granted. What happens once you are not a stable family unit anymore? What happens when one or both parents start dating other people, who may or may not have children?

These are some of the concerns that plague children after they learn about a separation. They worry about abandonment by one parent, step-siblings, new children joining the fold after remarriage, etc. How well, or not, children of divorce adjust afterward depends on these factors:

  • The quality of your relationship with the kids before divorcing
  • How long the chronic conflict lasted and the intensity of disagreements before separating
  • Your willingness and ability to prioritize your children's needs as the divorce ensues

The above points play an integral role in how well things go after the marriage disillusionment, but there is still room for improvement. Start mending stuff with your children so you can fare better once the divorce process starts. Teenagers are more difficult to deal with, and they tend to isolate themselves instead of speaking their minds. Encourage your pubescent child to share their feelings about the separation so they don't make presumptions that could damage them.

Parents must do their best to put their differences aside and continue being beautiful parents to their children. If you have been supporting the family, please keep doing so until the court decides how the bills will be paid moving forward. The non-working spouse may have to get a job so they can support themselves even as they get some child support.

  1. Share the Upside of Divorce

The very mention of divorce is alarming, and many people start imagining the worst outcomes befalling children of divorce. Staying in an unhappy marriage fighting with your spouse physically or verbally is neither healthy for you or the kids. When you decide to go your separate ways, the children stand to benefit by growing up in a household free of violence and abuse.

What's more, children are more resilient than they are credit for, as they have robust coping strategies that help them adapt to new situations. They also become more self-sufficient getting things done while the custodial parent is away working to boost the family's income.

Other potential benefits of divorce are teaching children to have more empathy for those who are suffering, and recognizing that good relationships take work. Having parents in separate residences can also foster quality time with each parent as they are happy and content in the new arrangement. A happy parent is more open to storytelling time before bed, playing catch on the weekends, and trying out new cuisines, or only taking walks to the park.

Finding the San Diego Divorce Lawyer Near Me

Getting a divorce is a weighty decision that spouses in bad marriages grapple with until they cannot take the misery any longer. Feigning happiness for the sake of children is only prolonging the suffering until the inevitable separation happens. Meanwhile, you expose yourself and the kids to less than ideal situations that could harm their mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing.

If you are contemplating dissolving your union, contact the San Diego Divorce Attorney at 858-529-5150 for a consultation on how to go about a successful divorce and leave with the children unscathed.

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