With roughly 40%-50% of marriages ending in divorce currently in the U.S., chances are that even if you haven’t been directly affected by one, you know someone who has, possibly even someone close to you. Many times, the pop-culture perception of divorce clouds our judgment, making divorce sound like an irrevocably damaging process to everyone involved, especially children. While this does happen, there are also many spouses who manage to navigate the storm to live happy and fulfilling lives after divorce. The same applies to children, still able to have a complete relationship with both parents. What is the difference? In some cases, it starts with how the divorce process itself is handled.
When it comes to divorce, one of the first things that people think of is “what about the kids?” While divorce can be hard on children, some tell stories about how the divorce affected them for the better, like making them more self-reliant, allowing for more quality time spent with each parent rather than stressful time spent with both, and even giving them a complete picture of relationships for the future. If you’re noticing a common thread here, it’s that the examples parents set during divorce can have long-lasting effects on children, for better or worse. Ugly behavior is more likely to lead to some of the effects that pop culture has us associate with divorce and children.
The best way to help with this, especially for younger children, is to have open discussions about what is going on, and use a co-parenting strategy that allows for both parents to have their say on important issues. If possible, try to keep systems like school, friends, and extended family as intact as possible during the divorce process, to give them potential stability.
The nice thing about this process is that it helps you work healthily through your divorce as much as it helps your children. Using this opportunity to learn lessons about yourself and relationships may help you find meaning and positivity in the divorce process. In addition, don’t be afraid to find ways to enjoy yourself during the process. Many people feel down on themselves as if the marriage is a result of some inherent flaw. While there may be lessons to be learned, it is also important to try to find reasons to get out, be social and indulge in things you enjoy. This will allow you the chance to get some added stability during a time in your life where everything changes. If you would do it for your children, why not do it for yourself?
As a final note, there is a level of subjectivity to these. The sheer volume of divorces going on means that there are many different reasons to end a marriage, and in extreme cases, some of the situations here may not apply. This doesn’t mean that people even in the bitterest of divorces can’t live full lives, though.
Setting The Stage
As we mentioned, divorce is a time of upheaval for all parties involved, meaning that whatever stability you find is something that you should try to hold on to. Along with finding proper emotional support, it’s also important to try and make sure the actual legal divorce process has minimal hurdles to make a smooth transition. No matter how understanding two former spouses are, the longer the divorce process goes on, the more draining it can be, both on your emotions and wallet.
For these reasons, make sure you are seeking out a family law attorney when you are choosing your legal support or representation, particularly one that works in the state where your divorce is filed. Each state has different laws regarding important things like child custody and how joint assets are dispersed, so one strategy that works in one situation may not work with another. The counsel of an experienced legal professional will minimize the chance of any nasty surprises.
Many people get hung up on the idea of “winning” a divorce, but there isn’t really such a thing. Whether you’re trying to get what you feel you are owed from joint work during the marriage, or are seeking to try to use your divorce as a weapon, the mentality of winning and losing only serves to damage rather than support. The best thing you can do to set the stage for a better life post-divorce is use all the means possible to ensure a smooth and fair process. The “winning” will come afterward.