If you are considering filing for a divorce, there is a lot to be thinking about when you have children. Most importantly is how you can make this difficult transition as easy as possible for your children.
How can you best prepare them for what is ahead?
Here are some helpful tips and things to think about which we've offered to many clients over the years:
- If there aren't safety risks in your marriage, tell your spouse ahead of time that you will have him/her served with divorce papers. Blindsiding your spouse, who is also the mother or father of your children, is never a good idea unless there are significant legal or safety reasons to do so. Be sure to follow your attorney's advice in this area.
- Take some time before you tell your children. Allow some time for you and your spouse to process what is to come. This will allow you to help your children when they have their own emotional reactions to the divorce, as they will. If possible, read a book or some of the research online about how children of different ages react to separation and divorce.
- In that same vein, do your research. For example, pick up some books on Children and Divorce, Co-Parenting, and children's books on divorce. We have written in the past about some books which family court judges have found particularly useful and informative. You can read more about them here.
- Set up ground rules and define logistics. For example: If you and your spouse are on speaking terms, attempt to discuss how you would like the parenting plan to look following the separation. To get an idea of the types of things the Court will look for in a well thought out parenting plan, click here.
- Is someone moving out of the house? If yes, when?
- If you are nesting (i.e., still living in the marital home together, post-separation), how will you both take care of the children, the house, other responsibilities, etc. This can be a formal or informal plan, but if you write it down it's less likely to result in a misunderstanding. To read more about "nesting" and other creative parenting schedules, click here.
- How will you communicate and co-parent about the children? Will this be through informal talks, emails, phone calls, or regular meetings? Beware, as tensions rise, the talking in person will likely become difficult. Also, if litigation will become part of the process, be mindful that the only communications that are easiest to prove in Court are written communications. Consider having discussions in person, if things are civil and then following those conversations up with a "summary email" to document the points which were agreed/decided upon during the conversation.
- If possible, tell your children together. This allows both of you the opportunity to comfort your children and to answer any questions they may have as a united front. You will always be the two parents of your children and the healthiest thing for them is to know that each of you will always support and love them without conditions.
If you or someone you know is considering filing for or is going through a divorce involving child custody, our experienced family court attorneys can help. Call (864) 598-9172 today to schedule a consultation.