The Offspring. It is such an emotionless phrase, like the children are property or something you display on a table in your foyer. Often in divorce younger children do become nothing more than a bartering tool and their well being gets lost in the game of tug-of-war. Older children, even those far from the nest, often experience a huge emotional roller coaster and, sometimes, their views on their own relationships are affected.
Like every other component of your divorce, there is both a business and emotional challenge in dealing with children during the process. If there are young ones under 18, there is the matter of custody. Regardless of your child’s age, there is the challenge of keeping them emotionally balanced through the process. Here are some tips for dealing with both sides of this issue:
The Business of Custody:
- Child custody and support are often the most disputed areas in divorce negotiations because they involve both emotions and money. Too often the children are used as a bargaining chip. Don’t settle for an unfair agreement just because your partner is threatening to take the children.
- Have the Court issue a temporary order regarding custody, visitation and child support.
- Talk to your attorney about how best to position yourself.
- Continue living in your home if you want to stay there with your children afterward the divorce.
- Include questions of relocation before, during or after a divorce in the custody decision not AFTER the divorce.
- Bargain hard for the maximum amount of child support your children may receive. The average child support award is usually half of what the children need.
The Emotional Balance of Children (of all ages):
- Be an effective communicator and keep children informed of what is happening. To the best of your ability, help them understand why divorce was inevitable without bashing your former partner. Remember, children of all ages are very perceptive and, if you don’t give them the information, they’ll invent it themselves.
- Do not make children take sides. Use your friends and support network to vent anger and frustration toward your ex, but don’t project these feelings on the kids.
- Even if your children are all grown up, they still need to be kept in the communication loop. Also realize that seeing their parents split can have drastic impact on their current or future marriages or relationships. That is why it is so important to articulate what happened in your specific situation so they do not project negative feelings or cynicism on all relationships. Perhaps they can even learn from your mistakes.
- Keep an eye open for drastic changes in behavior. The divorce process has sent more than one child off the straight in narrow. The best way to fix this problem is to prevent it by constant observation and honest communication.