The Impact of Divorce on Children


Divorce is a common occurrence in today's day and age. It often comes with a lot of emotion and struggle as the two parties try to sort out the details of issues like custody, child support and property division. A divorce can be particularly difficult for children. It is important that no matter how difficult the divorce becomes, parents work with their children to help them transition and further their development.

The importance of communication

Fostering a notion that the family will continue to operate with a set shared goals and the overall interests of the family in mind can be one of the best ways for parents to help children through the divorce process. Parents should remain open and honest with their children during the difficult divorce process and should make sure that they take the time to listen to their children. Establishing rules before having conversations can prove to be a useful tool. That way, each person gets the chance to communicate effectively.

When parents openly communicate with their children, they should not be afraid to show emotion. Children may respond well to being shown empathy and this can result in the children giving their own suggestions about how the family can best transition. Parents should be careful not to share details that may be especially sensitive or hurtful and negative information or opinions about the other parent should be left out of discussions with children. Children may feel as if they are in a tug of war between the two parents and speaking poorly of the other only adds to their stress.

Creating routines to provide stability

Setting a routine can be especially helpful in putting younger children at ease. If possible, parents may choose to stick to their old routines as best as possible. With all of the change the children are facing, adhering to a routine provides them with stability and makes them feel safe. A routine ultimately makes the transition much smoother and both parents should work together to ensure that goal.

Teenagers and divorce

A teenager that finds out his or her parents are divorcing may deal with the situation differently than a younger child. A teenager is at the stage during which he or she is establishing independence and trying to create his or her own identity. Divorce can have make life more complicated for the teenager. Often, teens will grieve the loss of their family and worry about each of their parents' well-being. Teens may even carry a sense of guilt internally for the divorce without outwardly admitting to the issue.

Teenagers can benefit from meeting with other groups and families that are experiencing the same problems. The group becomes their community of support and helps teens and parents discover problem -solving skills that they can carry back into their own homes. Teenagers may find that they are not alone, and parents are able to have a safe space to communicate how much they love and care about their children.

Divorce, custody and child support

Families going through divorce may be dealing with legal proceedings and negotiations in addition to the changed family dynamics. When children are involved, custody may become the main concern for the parents. The state of Pennsylvania recognizes legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody refers to the decision-making process and the ability that the individual parent has to make decisions about issues like the child's school, religion, health and welfare.

Physical custody refers to where the child will spend a majority of his or her time. Pennsylvania courts can grant parents shared custody or sole custody in each of these matters. Visitation is typically allowed so that each parent is able to spend time with the children regardless of who is granted primary physical custody.

Child support is an issue that is also resolved during divorce proceedings. Parents with physical custody may find themselves struggling to raise the child on their salary alone. The court recognizes this and usually forces the other parent to pay a larger portion of child support to the custodial parent. Both parents are still responsible for the child in a legal custody sense and child support helps to ensure that they are both providing for the child's basic day to day needs.

Custody and support can be complicated issues to navigate during a divorce. When faced with these challenges, an experienced family law attorney can help negotiate settlements, file documents with the court and handle the legal aspects of the divorce.

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