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Divorce and Children

Divorce can be an emotionally difficult experience, especially if children are involved. In most cases, custody is shared between divorced parents in one form or another, meaning that parents will have to work out schedules of exchanges or visitations, and provide for emergency changes to the schedule that may arise. Moreover, important events throughout the child's life, from school plays to graduations to weddings and births, will require the presence of both parents, who need to be able to put aside their differences for the sake of their children.

A successful divorce will do more than simply end the marriage; it will enable the spouses to come out on the other side with a working relationship that recognizes the realities of the future and the important contributions that both a mother and a father can continue to make in the upbringing and life of a child.

Impact of Divorce on Children

The impact of a divorce on the children to the marriage can never be entirely managed or predicted, but the attitude of the parties and the way they conduct themselves in the proceeding can go a long way toward minimizing any negative impact of the divorce. Psychologists have identified several ways that being sensitive to the needs of the children can help:

  • The amount of conflict during the marriage, and whether there is ongoing conflict after the divorce, contributes greatly to the child's ability to adjust to a divorce.
  • Having a continuing relationship with both parents is the most beneficial for the child (except in cases of an abusive spouse or parent).
  • The way spouses talk about each other in front of or to the child can impact the way the child perceives things.
  • Parenting time, including custody and visitation exchanges, should be accomplished with predictable routines in an atmosphere with low conflict and stress.

In making custody and support decisions, most courts operate from the standpoint of what is in the best interests of the children. If parents take this perspective to heart and consider the children foremost in all aspects of the divorce proceeding, this attitude could go a long way toward preparing children for life after the divorce.