Going through a divorce can be a deeply distressing time for all parties involved, however, it is vital to minimise the stress and grief experienced by the children as much as possible. There are various ways you can support your children when going through a divorce, including attitudes and techniques you can take up as well as services which are available – all of which will be covered over the course of this article.
A United Front
Regardless of age and other specifics of your situation, it is absolutely pivotal that parents never put children in the middle and force them to “pick a side”. Such a situation can cause detrimental psychological and emotional damage to the children and is highly unlikely to produce a result which is in the best interest of any party involved.
The best stance to take in the majority of cases is for the parents to take a united front when informing their children of the plans to divorce. Where possible, it is highly advised to tell your children together of your plans – as this cements the idea of a unanimous decision and minimises against the chance of blame or resentment being forged in your child’s mind.
Initially, informing your children of the divorce is an unavoidable and highly distressing prospect for many parents. However, a highly effective and proven strategy for minimising the unrest this is likely to cause is to prepare and stick to a script which answers the likely questions and concerns the children are going to have.
The overall message you are trying to communicate is that the divorce is a unanimous decision, in the best interest of both parents involved. There should be no blame placed in the children’s direction or towards one side of the marriage. Ultimately, they should be left wholly aware that your love and support for them remains exactly the same. Investing in the services of experienced divorce lawyers can help advise you in best implementing this strategy.
Consistency is Key
Provided in 2012 by The Office for National Statistics (ONC), the latest figures we have on British divorce is that 42% of marriages will end in lawful separation. From this figure, Young Minds estimate that a mere 70% of divorced fathers continue to have regular contact with their children.
It is absolutely imperative, therefore, that divorces are carried out in the most conscientious and uncomplicated way as possible – to give the best chance for relationships between the children and parents be maintained in the future. Resentment, distress and blame are all emotions which can be produced by a messy, acrimonious divorce which lessen the chance of healthy functional relationships being upkept between parents and their children moving forward.
As well as maintaining a united front between parents, another way to maintain this consistent attitude is by attempting wherever possible to maintain familiar routines, reliable arrangements and minimise any further change wherever possible. Continuing prior relationships and routines with extended family and friends, for example, is an effective way to minimise the stress of which change can have upon children/
The Benefit of Professional Care
Professional Mediation and Collaborative services can be a highly beneficial venture to help provide parents with a supported, respectful environment to discuss your children their best interests moving forward in the midst of a divorce.
A neutral, professionally trained mediator is used during mediation in order to facilitate this safe environment for discussions regarding children and divorce. Depending on the nature of your divorce and the relationship between you and your ex-partner, there can either be one mediator present or two mediators who work with each side of the couple individually – a process referred to as “co-mediation.”
Collaborative practice occurs where couples opt to not go to court and simply sign a contract to work together with other professionals (e.g. lawyers, family therapists and financial neutrals) in order to reach a mutual agreement regarding various aspects of the separation. This is a common option for divorces which have children involved as it minimised the stress placed upon them.
As part of this collaborative process, a series of facilitated, non-tactical meetings are arranged and carried out by professionals to help pinpoint and support the family’s overall needs. The negotiations are always carried out in person with the clients present, whilst professionals draw up a formal record of the contents of the meetings.
Parenting after Parting classes, alongside the advice and emotional support of family consultants who will help you in drawing up a parenting plan, are other professional services which are available to help you carry out your divorce as painlessly and straightforwardly as possible.
Handling Courts with Care
Wherever and whenever possible, involving children in court places should absolutely be avoided. Civil courts within Scotland are responsible for handling family matters – where Child Arrangement Orders will determine visiting rights and where they will live.
As long as the father is on the birth certificate and the child was born after 2006, there will be will lawfully-required parental responsibilities and rights for any couple going through a divorce. If court is deemed absolutely necessary then there are a number of different orders that the courts can make regarding children following a divorce – particularly involving custody, relocation and child support.
It is important to accustom yourself with this child custody information and be sure of your rights when going through a divorce involving children. We find it important to stress, however, that the support and guidance of a highly professional and experienced family law firm can ensure that the divorce is carried out as smoothly as possible, without the need to involve children in the further distress which the court system is likely to bring.
Getting Support for Your Divorce
Are you going through a divorce in Scotland? Cath Karlin Family Law is an experienced specialist family law practice based in Edinburgh which will help you carry out the separation in the most respectful and dignified way possible – with the best interests of your children always in mind.
If you need any further assistance regarding information regarding matrimonial separation or any other family law queries, please don’t hesitate to get in contact and we’ll do all we can to help.