In The Truth About Children and Divorce, a full 73% of grown children stated their lives would have been different if their parents had not gotten a divorce. 48% stated they felt they had a harder childhood than most, and 48% stated they had missed their father while growing up. A third of these adults felt their childhood had been cut short as a result of their parents’ divorce, while nearly half believed their parents’ divorce was still causing problems for them, even though they were now grown. These are rather alarming statistics for parents who are headed toward divorce, or have already gone through a divorce. Of course the best course of action during a divorce is for both parents to put their feelings about one another aside, and truly make decisions which are based solely on the best interests of their children.
If you are a divorced parent, you likely know how difficult this can be to accomplish. The attorneys at The Law Place have a goal of helping parents communicate calmly with one another, expressing their emotions appropriately, and always thinking of their children when making any decisions. Children have no say in their parent’s divorce, and can feel powerless and afraid as a result. Our attorneys have extensive experience helping parents come to a mutually acceptable agreement, however if that proves impossible, we are dedicated to ensuring your rights as our client, and the rights of your children are fully protected.
Should a Judge Make Decisions Regarding Your Children?
If you and your spouse are unable to come to a mutually acceptable agreement regarding custody and visitation for your children, a Florida judge will end up making those decisions for you. Parents who are locked in a struggle over the children and are bickering endlessly may not realize that their children’s futures could be taken out of their hands. Of course a judge is bound by Florida statute to make decisions based on the best interests of your children. The problem with this is that his or her decisions may be totally opposite from anything you or your spouse had in mind.
When you consider that you could well be turning complete control of the major elements in your children’s future to a judge who doesn’t even know them—or you—and who likely has no training in child psychology or child development, you may want to go back to the drawing table with your spouse and try once more to hammer out an agreement. Further, as your children grow older and their interests and activities change, it is much simpler to modify an agreement reached between parents than to petition the court for such changes. Constant legal wrangling between parents will not only harm the children, it can cost both parents a significant amount of money.
What About Mediation?
If you simply can’t reach an agreement regarding child custody with your spouse, consider mediation to solve crucial parenting issues, and come up with a realistic Parenting Plan. Unlike the scenario when you stand before a judge and are told how you will raise your children, going through mediation allows both parties to feel like they are being heard. In mediation a truly neutral third party will work with the parents to reach an agreement which will work for the parents and children alike. If mediation doesn’t feel right to you and your spouse, consider having a neutral expert perform a custody evaluation and present findings to the judge. While such an evaluation can be very expensive, in some cases it can be well worth the money. Remember that you have a certain level of input in a mediated agreement; if the judge makes the decision for you, you will be stuck with the outcome regardless of how you feel about it.
How Can You Help Your Children Through the Divorce?
As a concerned parent, there are many things you can do during your divorce to protect your children and prevent them from ending up as a statistic. Remember that as stressful as your divorce may be for you, it is equally stressful for your children. Few children are happy about their parent’s divorce, unless the marriage was full of conflict and anger. Divorce can lead to economic hardships, lost contact with one parent and even more conflict between the parents.
How well your children come through this transition has much to do with whether you keep your home calm, or it is in a constant state of chaos. You must be patient and reassuring with your children in order to minimize any tension they feel about their new circumstances. If you will have to move following the divorce, this sort of stability is even more important. The children may be leaving friends, family, school and their home as well as being separated from one parent. This is a huge change in their lives, and what they need most is a listening ear and plenty of love to learn to cope with these new circumstances.
Speaking to an attorney from The Law Place early on in the divorce process can ensure you have compassionate, professional and experienced legal advice from start to finish. We understand your concerns regarding your children during and after your divorce and will work hard to help you minimize the effects of your divorce on the children.