Divorce can be traumatic in any situation, but it’s particularly difficult when children are involved. If you’re separating from your spouse and you share children, there will be numerous issues that need to be decided.
You may want to share custody with your spouse, for example, or fight for sole custody. Alternatively, you may insist upon certain visitation arrangements or want to take your kids to live out of state. With numerous decisions to be made, it’s easy for things to get fractious and even combative.
However, it’s important to put the kids and their interests first. If you want to ensure the process has minimal impact on your kids, take a look at these top tips.
1. Get Legal Advice
Although you can technically get divorced without being legally represented, it’s rarely a good idea. If you want to understand your rights, you’ll need the help of an experienced child custody lawyer. Family law is complicated and complex, so it helps to have a specialist on hand to help you navigate the process of making a custody agreement.
By formalizing the agreement via the courts, the entire family will know exactly how their time will be spent. In contrast, informal agreements made between partners can be subject to change at any time. This instability can be harmful to children, particularly if they’re regularly moving between two homes. When you seek legal advice and representation, you can ensure an appropriate agreement is put in place and give your kids the stability and reassurance they need.
2. Consider Alternative Forms of Dispute Resolution
Not all custody battles or divorces need to involve lengthy court battles and litigation. Taking a collaborative approach and engaging in alternative forms of dispute resolution (ADR) is often a less stressful way to reach an agreement. In addition to this, alternative dispute resolution is often much quicker and cheaper than entering into litigation.
Mediation is a particular popular and effective form of ADR. If you and your spouse aren’t contesting any major issues, it may be a viable way for you to discuss potential custody issues and decide how you want to move forward.
3. Keep Matters Private
No matter what age your children are, they won’t want to hear you badmouthing their other parent. If you want to sound off about your soon-to-be ex-spouse, talk to friends or extended family members. When custody battles are contentious, parents often attempt to dissuade their kids from wanting to spend time with their other parent or try to change the child’s opinion of them. Sadly, this only increases the trauma associated with divorce and makes it more difficult for children to cope.
Focus on the Kids
When you focus on your children’s interests, you’ll find it easier to engage in collaborative discussions and avoid lengthy legal arguments. Although it can be difficult to come to a custody agreement that pleases everyone, working with a family lawyer and putting the kids’ interests first is always the best place to start.