Many couples recognize that they have irreconcilable differences, and yet continue to hold on to a collapsing relationship for the sake of their children’s well-being. The nature of the situation is not ideal: between a rock and a hard place, parents feel as if they must choose between staying in an unhappy marriage, which may translate into an unhappy household, or to pursue legal separation and its potential negativity, affecting their children’s emotional state. It is never any parent’s wish to put their children through the confusion and stress of divorce. Divorce proceedings can be lengthy and complex, requiring each spouse to focus much of their time and energy on legal battles. This process alone can put a strain on the well-being of any child. It can be especially difficult for children of a young age, as their understanding of love, relationships, and safety are very much in the process of being formed while being understood through the normality of having both parents living in the same household. What is worse is that some custody battles are not fought for the best interest’s of the children, but for control and each spouse wanting to “get back” at one another.
If you and your spouse are thinking about legal separation in the best interests of your family, there is a way to divorce while minimizing conflict through out the process. Mediation is the process of having an impartial third party to facilitate and negotiate a consensual settlement. Decision-making authority rests with the parents, as the mediator guides the process to eliminate as many barriers to communication as possible.
The University of Missouri recommends that parents reassure their children, making them feel loved by demonstrating active communication and staying involved. Children do not want to see their parents arguing; oftentimes, they will internalize feelings of guilt or responsibility for their parents’ unhappiness. It is suggested that children are informed that they do not need to pick sides in the divorce and that they will be given the opportunity to spend time with each parent.
Being patient and honest with your children will help them to adjust to what can feel like an extremely drastic life change. Communicate clearly, but keep it simple, such as saying “we aren’t getting along and we have decided to separate, but we still love you and your siblings”. This allows you to be truthful while reminding them that they are loved. Furthermore, keeping up good habits and routines will show your children that you can be relied upon to provide them with a sense of security and stability throughout their lives.
McNamee Mediations is an Orange County firm that provides certified divorce mediation. The firm strives to create the best possible outcome for the co-parents. In most instances, the couple comes to a much friendlier agreement that when they first began the divorce mediation process.
Colleen McNamee is a certified family law mediation specialist serving clients in Orange County, who has handled more than four thousand cases. We highly recommend booking a consultation to see if divorce mediation might be right for you.
4590 MacArthur Blvd Suite 500, Newport Beach, CA 92660, United States