While going through a divorce can be hard under the best of circumstances, if you have children, you are faced with even more challenges. Many studies detail the negative effect divorce has on children, however you need to know that your children do not have to be a statistic. The decisions you and your spouse make now, can have a huge effect on how well your children come through this difficult, transitional time. The attorneys at The Law Place have been helping parents just like you for many years.
We have a broad range of family law experience and the necessary knowledge of Florida laws. Our reputation is exemplary, and we use our legal background to ensure your rights and the rights of your children are fully protected during and after your divorce. While your attorney from The Family Law Place can help you through the legalities of your divorce, some of the issues discussed below can help ensure your children come through your divorce as unscathed as possible.
Telling Your Children about the Divorce
Of course how and when you tell your children about your divorce will be largely dependent on their age and maturity levels. Younger children may not need to be told until closer to the time the divorce will become final, while older children are likely already aware there are problems, so should be told sooner. If you and your spouse are able, it is better for the children if you tell them about the divorce together. It is important that you reassure the children that they have done nothing wrong and are not in any way the cause of your divorce. You will also want to tell them they will still have two parents who love them and you will remain a family, albeit one with two households.
Allow the children to express their feelings about the divorce, and try to stay as calm as possible if those feelings are negative. Young children can get by with a short, concise explanation while older children may want more details. Try to stay fairly neutral regarding the reason for your divorce. Even if you are getting divorced because your spouse cheated on you, the children don’t need to know this. A simple “we have grown apart and can’t continue to live together, but we will always be your parents,” is generally sufficient. Children adjust much more readily to divorce when their parents show respect for one another, and the role of each as parents.
How Will Shared Parental Responsibility Work?
In the state of Florida, the term “custody” has largely been replaced with “parental responsibility.” If the parents have shared parental responsibility, the children will likely live with one parent and have generous visitation with the other. Major life decisions such as those associated with health, education, religious upbringing and discipline will be discussed and made jointly in a shared parenting situation, while day-to-day decisions will likely be made by the parent the children live with.
While some parents do try to split their children’s time exactly 50/50, with the children living in one home half the time and the other parent’s home the other half, courts generally don’t encourage this arrangement. Unless you and your ex live extremely close to one another, it can be difficult for the children because inevitably school items, backpacks, books and clothing will be left at one parent’s home and needed at the other. If you and your spouse can work together to compile a mutually acceptable Parenting Plan, this is almost always better than having the judge decide where your children will live and how they will be raised.
Choose your battles wisely when you and your spouse are hammering out a workable Parenting Plan. Parents who work hard to cooperate when differences arise will be much more likely to make solid, healthy decisions for their children. Recurring arguments between parents make life extremely difficult for the children while a peaceful environment will help your children later in life as they forge their own adult relationships.
The Changes Brought on By Your Divorce
There will be many changes brought on by your divorce, both in your life and the lives of your children. If you must move following the divorce, your children may be taken away from everything that is familiar about their lives. Their friends, family, school, neighborhood and home could all change in an instant, leaving them feeling very insecure. While it may be difficult, try to keep your children’s lives as close to what they were prior to the divorce.
Children actually thrive on routine, so have a regular schedule and stick to it. Remember that your children are just that—children—and as such should not receive confidences you would tell your friends or be burdened with adult responsibilities or your feelings about their other parent. If you are stuck with a very difficult co-parent, you are in a frustrating situation. As hard as it will be, try to rise above—the payoffs may not be immediate but will come, down the road as you see children who are well-adjusted and happy.
The attorneys at The Law Place take the emotional, complex experience of divorce with children and provide counsel and guidance for you during this difficult time. We are highly skilled in the art of negotiation, and whenever possible will use this to your advantage. At the same time, we will never hesitate to step into a courtroom on your behalf, fighting aggressively for your future. Don’t wait until your divorce has become a tangle of legalities and emotions—call an experienced attorney from The Law Place today.