How to prepare yourself and your kids for your divorce
While getting a divorce is extremely difficult for most parents, it is also extremely difficult for your children as well.
When you think about the topic of divorce, most people's reactions aren't along the lines of "oh, fun, can't wait to do that!" Oftentimes, divorce can be extremely difficult. It's essentially uprooting your way of life and can be especially hard if you have children. This article is written for those parents going through a divorce who want to know how to do what's best for themselves and for their kids. While every parent and family is different, we hope that with the information contained here, your divorce, while it will likely still be hard, will at least be a little bit easier both on you and your children.
Mediation vs. Attorneys
There are two ways couples can usually file for and complete a divorce proceeding: through actual divorce litigation, or through divorce mediation.
Divorce litigation involves hiring an attorney and likely going to court. A judge will go through the details of your marriage, look at your assets, and help to figure out how custody works. Once the judge decides on how all these aspects will be divided, your divorce is finalized. Average divorce litigation averages around 18 months, and can cost upwards of $15,000.
Divorce mediation, on the other hand, involves hiring a third-party, neutral mediator. They too will go through the aspects of your marriage, your assets, and how custody of your children will work. In divorce mediation, both parties work together with the mediator to come up with an agreement that covers all these things, and how everything will be divided up, and your divorce will be finalized. Divorce mediation ending in an agreement can usually take between 4 and 10 sessions with your mediator (around 90 days), and on average, costs around $3,000.
What works best for you and your family often depends on how your family functions and the state of your relationship with your partner. Mediation often works best for couples that can be cordial, can agree to most aspects of the division of their assets, etc. and who don't have an extremely complicated file. Hiring an attorney to help through divorce litigation works well for couples who can't seem to agree on who gets what, and who has a complicated factual pattern.
Before deciding which path works best for you, take a good hard look at your relationship with your partner, your marriage, and your assets. Sometimes it's best to hire an attorney or mediator who is an expert in these fields to help you make this decision. You can even start with divorce mediation, and move to involve attorneys and litigation if you and your spouse cannot come to an agreement.
How to Tell the Kids
One thing you probably never thought you would ever have to do is telling your kids that you and your significant other will go separate ways. Kids can take things hard, and oftentimes believe things are their fault when they aren't. How you tell your kids is up to you and your family, but we hope this article will at least give you some helpful points that you can use in your own lives.
First, it's important that you are open and honest with your children. It's likely that your kids are going to have a lot of questions. After all, their parents splitting up will result in a lot of change in their everyday lives. The more open you are about what is happening to the family, the better your children will understand that this is not their fault and that their parents will always love them, regardless of whether they still together or not.
Talk to your soon-to-be ex-partner about the best way to communicate your decision to your kids, together or separately. You need to make sure both you and your partner are on the same page. It's important to try not to bad-mouth your partner when you talk to your children. You want to make this transition as easy as possible for them, so making sure that they don't see any ill will toward either parent is vitally important.
Lastly, and most importantly, as previously mentioned, you need to reiterate that none of this is their fault, and regardless of their parents not being together anymore, they will always be loved. While your relationship with your spouse may be ending, you need to tell your child or children that your relationship with them is forever, as is your spouse's.
How much you tell your kids will obviously be dependent on their age, maturity, and the status of your relationship with your partner. Regardless, so long as you focus on the fact that the divorce is not their fault and they will always be loved, however, this difficult time in your child's life may be made a little easier.
What is Co-Parenting and How Do We Do It?
When you decide that you and your spouse will be separating, it's important you decide how you will raise your children. For many people, this decision will be co-parenting. This means that major things, like where your children will go to school, what religion they will be raised as, who will take care of finances, and other life-decisions will be made together with both parties.
Co-parenting will likely be difficult at times. You won't always agree on what's best for your child. But it's important during these disagreements that you are always willing to compromise, or at least discuss these important matters, and that you both keep your children's best interest in mind. Showing your children that you are able to agree on things, even after you get divorced, will give them an example of how to deal with conflict effectively and peacefully.
Creating a Plan
Creating a co-parenting plan is essential if you decide you will use this method of raising your children. You and your spouse should talk about the way divorce is affecting you and your children, not only emotionally but also legally, things like finances, last will and testament, spousal support, and also creating a co-parenting plan are topics to cover. Having a plan ensures that should a disagreement come up; in many cases, you can turn to your plan and find a solution without ever having to argue with your ex.
Co-parenting plans often involve an agreement between both parties as to how they will make decisions regarding their children. It can cover things like who has custody when, who will be living with who, when, and where each parent will take the children on vacation, and more.
If you decide co-parenting is a style that will work for you and your family, your co-parenting agreement should always include the essentials, such as who will take care of food, clothing, and living accommodations.
While getting a divorce is extremely difficult for most parents, it is also extremely difficult for your children as well. However, if both parents are committed to making decisions together and keeping their children's best interests in mind, you'll eventually come to an agreement with your spouse that works for all of you – your children included.