Best Interests of the Child: What Truly Matters in Divorce
It is undeniable that going through divorce is a highly emotional and difficult time in any two people’s lives. For those going through divorce with children, the process of divorce can be even more emotional. Although it is wise for anyone going through a divorce to try and remain as composed and cooperative as possible, this is even more important when children are involved.
As parents, people spend their entire lives caring for, loving, worrying about, and generally centering their entire universe around their children. Divorce presents couples who previously spent holidays, birthdays and weekends together with the difficult task of figuring out how to move forward as a two-household family. Depending on the events surrounding the divorce, it can become easy for parties to lose sight of what is truly important: the kids. It is not uncommon for the divorcing couple to become so angry, disappointed and frustrated with one another that they suddenly turn their divorce into an all-out war against one another. Sadly, in this situation, the children are the ones who suffer.
Dr. Laura Markham, trained Clinical Psychologist, in Aha! Parenting, Divorce: Protecting Your Kids discusses this very concern, citing the top risk factors that children of divorce face. She explains that kids of divorce are 25% more likely to abuse drugs by age 14, do not do well academically, are less likely to go to college and are twice as likely to divorce. In explaining this, Dr. Markahm discusses the risk factors citing the number one risk factor as being a situation where parents continue fighting. Certainly, no parent wants anything but the absolute best for their children. However, the reality is that we are all only human and sometimes, our emotions get the best of us. As Dr. Markham explains, there are certain techniques that parents can employ to help their children navigate through their parents’ divorce as smoothly as possible. Some of the key techniques includes:
- Realizing that it is in the child’s best interest for both parents to remain involved in the child’s life (with certain exceptions of course);
- Allowances for both parents to see one another whenever possible (provided it is legally allowable)
- Understanding that the children should never be asked who they would prefer to live with
- Keeping appropriate boundaries with regards to discussions with the children and understanding it is not in the child’s best interest to talk about one another in front of the kids, speak negatively about one another to the kids and/or relay messages through the kids.
Here at Mello & Pickering, LLP we have seen how much good can come from parents who implement these sorts of techniques. Rather than seeing children regress or withdraw, parents who continue to co-parent through their divorce see their children continue to thrive. The Courts and therapists alike agree: it is and always will be about what is in the best interest of the child. With 35+ years combined experience, we can help you and your children through the process of your divorce. We understand the importance of making sure children are safe and happy and as such, make it our top priority to help make the divorce process as smooth as possible for our clients and their children alike.