Births, marriages, and deaths are three of the most emotionally charged events that any family experiences. Unfortunately for some families a fourth event, divorce, also becomes part an integral part of life. Divorce can affect every member of a family in different ways and to varying degrees. Often the individuals that are most affected are the children. However, it is possible to minimize the effect that proceedings have on children and in doing so ensure that their needs are always put first.
Making the right decision
The decision to file for divorce is rarely arrived at easily or quickly, particularly when children are involved. It is essential that the decision has been given a great deal of thought before action is taken. It is also important that advice is sort from a qualified Chicago divorce attorney who has experience of deal with family cases. Before deciding to go ahead you may want to consider whether you have explored all other avenues including marriage or even family counseling.
Talk openly and encourage questions
It is not unusual for you and your spouse to find it difficult to talk about the reasons why you are seeking to end your marriage. But, when children are involved you need to be prepared for them to want to ask questions. It is best to try to answer their questions as honestly as you can in relation to their age and level of understanding. However, it is important that you:
- Don’t force children into awkward conversations
- Be honest and open
- Don’t use conversations to apportion blame
- Allow them to express their feelings and emotions
Consider the child’s wishes
How much your child understands will of course depend on their age and abilities. However, most children will be able to express, to at least some degree, preferences over who they want to live with. Of course you will need to take into consideration that it is likely that your child would prefer to be with both parents, and for the parents to remain together. You will need to explain why this can’t happen. As well as the child’s wishes you will also need to consider at least some of the following points when discussing custody:
- Access to the child’s school and future education choices
- The child’s existing friendship groups and their ability to make new friends easily
- Any particular needs, especially physical disabilities, emotional or behavioral difficulties
- Will the child be able to cope with joint custody, particularly if it involves travelling on a weekly or fortnightly basis
The most important aspect of the divorce process is to ensure that your child, or children, know that they are still loved and wanted by both parents. It can be difficult to keep them at the front of your mind when dealing with such an emotionally charged time. But, if you as their parents are unable to act with the child’s best interests at heart, then the courts may take the decision making process out of your hands.