Divorce and separation are disruptive (sometimes traumatic) events in a child’s life, however amicable the break up between the parents. The end of a marriage, partnership or common-law marriage has far-reaching effects that affect many others besides just the couple. The impact can also last for a very long time and sometimes permanently color future attitudes and relationships.
Data collected in 2011 in a General Survey on Families reveals that approximately five million Canadians had separated/divorced in the last twenty years. Nearly half of these couples were in common-law relationships, while 44% had a legal marriage. An estimated 1.2 million Canadians were no longer in spousal/common-law relationships with the parent of their children. Figures also showed that nearly 25% of separated/divorced parents in Ontario were most likely to have dependent children.
In the light of such information, it’s obvious that the welfare of children remains the biggest concern that divorcing /separating parents have.
Establishing child support, custody and access are important aspects of the divorce/separation and most couples prioritize them, without allowing their personal acrimony/disputes to interfere.
Parental conflict has harmful effects on the developing minds of children, before, during and after divorce. Except in cases of severe marital/child abuse, there is a consensus among social workers, psychologists and counselors that maintaining a healthy relationship with both parents is very important. However, studies show that bitterness, jealousy, grief, anger etc can result in one parent dropping out of the children’s lives.
An experienced divorce lawyer, family lawyer or child custody lawyer can play a major role in ensuring that the divorce/separation process is swift, smooth and hassle-free. This allows all parties to move on and resume their normal lives.
Children’s Reactions, Requirements
Family/divorce lawyers are involved in all aspects of family law and conflict-resolution. They regularly handle cases where divorcing/separating couples require advice and information regarding laws, regulations and assistance in dealing with the complex issues of property-division, child-custody/support, financial support, etc.
They are well aware of the reactions and requirements of children in such situations. Children experience a range of emotional and behavioral reactions to their parents’ separation, including:
- Aggressive behavior
- Social and emotional withdrawal
- Regressive/child-like reactions
- Attention-seeking or demanding behavior
- Changes in academic performance
Parents may fail to realize that there is a huge disruption in the household routine when parents separate. Children may experience confusion and anger because of this. The Family Law Act does not insist on time being equally shared between parents after divorce/separation. These decisions are left to the parents/guardians to be made in the best interests, wishes and preferences of the child.
- Keep your divorce/separation child-centric
- Maintain a spirit of co-operation regarding visitation/access
- Redefine your relationship with your ex-spouse after divorce/separation
- Never use the child as an agent to wreak revenge
- Don’t allow the child to become manipulative
- Seek information directly from your ex
- Don’t prevent/restrict access to the other parent
- Avoid coloring children’s attitudes
- Avoid burdening the child with adult problems
- Base your parenting schedule according to the child’s changing needs
Create a parenting plan/agreement with the other parent