One of the hardest decisions any person can make is to end a marriage. The decision of divorce brings final acceptance that you and your partner were unable to create the future you planned when you got married— to face life’s challenges and celebrations together forever. The decision is even more challenging when children are involved. Divorcing parents often spend countless hours worrying about how to keep their children safe and happy despite the divorce.
As an attorney assisting these parents through their difficult journey, this blog aims to provide the lessons I have learned over the past decade so parents have the tools they need to make the best decisions for their kids and create the brightest possible future for themselves in this process.
The longitudinal studies of children and divorce show two important things. First, divorce itself does not doom your child to a life that is any less enriching or rewarding than the life of a child growing up in intact families. Second, children with frequent access to both parents after a divorce fare far better than children who experience limited access to a parent or, worse yet, no access at all. This can be true even when the other parent is far less than an “ideal.”
What harms a child is their parents’ ongoing and embroiled conflict, not only before and during a divorce but also afterward. When a divorce doesn’t end the fighting it was designed to escape, the child may never learn how to resolve conflict, may lack effective problem-solving skills, and may miss out on the transformative power of an apology.
As a parent, you can take steps to learn how to manage and mitigate conflict with your co-parent, even when they seem unwilling to do the same. Your attorney can help provide tools or direct you to resources to maneuver through these issues.
When a child loses access to a parent, the wound is deep and often permanent. Too often, the child believes he did or said something that caused his parent to leave, and so he blames himself and carries guilt for something over which he had no control.
As a result, divorcing parents wanting to create the best life for their children must plan their future in a different way than they had hoped. For their children’s sake, the challenges and celebrations which were meant to be shared “together” by spouses will now be shared by ex-spouses “side-by-side.”
What does “side by side” mean in real life?
“Side by side” simply means doing the following:
Putting aside your differences and your current quarrel to attend your child’s kindergarten graduation peacefully and cheerfully, side by side.
Not automatically blaming the other parent for the choice your son made when he cheated on his test and instead of meeting with his teacher to formulate a joint plan for accountability in both households, side by side, so your son learns the valuable lesson of facing meaningful consequences for his own bad choices.
Hiding your disappointment when your daughter shares the fun she had when her mom took her to see Hamilton, whom she’s been studying in her 5th-grade history class.
Agreeing to switch “your” weekend when your son asked to attend his annual Boy Scout camp with his dad, which he’s done every year with the same kids and their dads since he was in Cub Scouts.
The idea of co-parenting may seem daunting at first but know that it can be done by engaging in healthy communication and conflict resolution with the other parent. Becoming a successful co-parent will take time and effort from both parents. It is also a life-long commitment. You may someday share grandchildren with the other parent or plan a wedding for your child together. Working on a healthy relationship with the other parent from the outset will ease the transition for your child and for you.
As a child-centered family lawyer, Chandler Winslow is sought after for solving highly contested custody issues. Chandler is knowledgeable about the unique circumstances involved with parents with special needs children, including ADHD, Autism, and learning difficulties. She has represented clients in all aspects of cases involving Child Protective Services (CPS) and has served children as a Guardian ad Litem/Attorney ad Litem. Chandler has been named D Magazine Best Lawyers Under 40 for 2022.
To learn more about how to minimize the negative impact of divorce on your children and successfully co-parent after divorce, please contact Chandler Winslow at 214-373-7676.
Our attorneys are experienced in all aspects of family law and will guide you through each step of the process, ensuring you have the information you need to make wise decisions and prepare for the future.