Relationships break down all the time and it can be hard picking up the pieces and moving on. It’s even harder when you share kids. US divorce rates have decreased in recent years, but according to data from the CDC, four out of every 1,000 people filed for divorce in 2020. Many of those people will have had children, and a significant number of their kids will end up traumatized by the divorce. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Just because your relationship has hit the skids, it doesn’t mean your kids have to suffer. In fact, it shouldn’t. Kids are innocent. It isn’t their fault mom and dad can’t stand the sight of each other or did something stupid, like sleep with the babysitter. Read on to learn how to keep your feelings in check and divorce amicably.
It’s really important to keep things civil from the outset. The more your divorce turns nasty, the greater the likelihood your children will end up emotionally scarred by the experience. While it is tempting to try and use your kids as a bargaining chip or withdraw contact from the spouse who wronged you, it isn’t fair on children to put them in the middle. No matter what mistakes you have both made – and nobody is innocent in a divorce – kids deserve to be shielded from the pain you are suffering.
Try and put your feelings to one side when dealing with your ex. Even if they have trampled all over your heart, humiliated you, and made a mockery of your wedding vows, think of the kids. If you want your children to grow up and form healthy, loving relationships, they need you to set a good example.
Keep it Civil
Don’t bad mouth your ex-spouse. Save up all your anger and angst for your therapist or best friend. Remind your kids that mom and dad love them and it’s not their fault things haven’t worked out. Reassure them they did nothing wrong (many kids feel like it is their fault). Speak of your ex with kindness and compassion. If you have to deal with your ex-spouse to sort out access arrangements, be reasonable and co-operative. Even if you feel like sticking pins in your eyes when they call.
Ask for Reasonable Support
Unless you want to work out everything between yourselves, chances are you’ll need to hire a divorce lawyer to sort out who gets what in a financial settlement. What you are entitled to will depend on which state you live in, but again, try and be reasonable. It’s much better for everyone if both parties can come to an amicable arrangement over any marital assets. If you go into negotiations with a bombastic attitude, things will soon escalate into WW3.
Always keep in mind that your spouse is the co-parent of your children. They’ll be a part of your life forever, so try and build a new, mutually respectful relationship with them, even if it’s not the one you expected to have when you trotted down the aisle once upon a time.