For young children, mom and dad are their world. The family is the hub of their existence. Their dependence on the family is intrinsically connected to their sense of who they are. This is especially true for young children. Naturally, when divorce disrupts their sense of family, it also results in disrupting the children’s sense of security and self-worth, which can be confusing, scary and overwhelming. The one constant that a child thought he or she could count on, no matter what, is now changing and that can be difficult to process. For young children, this can create anxiety, instability and a sense of insecurity. 1
The majority of parents understand that divorce is going to be a watershed moment. The family structure will change and they worry about how this will impact the children. Nevertheless even when the children the priority, the divorce process can be highly emotional and frightening and it can be easy for conflict to escalate.
Even the most well-meaning couples can get caught up in a bitter divorce if they do not carefully select the process by which they will divorce. The approach is critical because research indicates divorce isn’t what necessarily has a negative long-term impact on children, but rather the manner in which they divorce and conduct themselves during the process. In fact, most children of divorce do well and adjust long-term. It is the children who have been involved in high levels of parental conflict before and during the divorce process that seemed to have the most difficulties.2
The effects of high-conflict divorce on children is not limited to the direct impact on the children of having witnessed the conflict. Researchers have also found that the negative emotional impact parents experience during a contentious divorce limits a parent’s ability to be responsive and nurturing to their children.3 In addition, children who have been exposed to ongoing conflict within the home are more likely to suffer from future behavioral problems. This is true whether the parents stay in a high conflict marriage or go through a high-conflict divorce.
You may have determined that divorce is inevitable. You may not have a choice in the matter. However you can choose the approach to you and your family. You and your spouse can make proceed in a manner that ensures that your children the priority and they are protected from fallout of the adversarial divorce process. The alternatives to traditional divorce, which include collaborative divorce and mediation, are more conducive to a civilized, kinder and respectful process.
Collaborative divorce is focused on helping you achieve a mutually acceptable resolution without going to court and with the help of a team of collaborative professionals. This process creates an atmosphere of mutual trust and respect. It more cost effective than divorce litigation, protects children from the negative impact of litigation, ensures privacy and allows couples to reclaim their future by giving them control over the outcome.
Mediation is a process where a mediator meets with both spouses and assist them in identifying the issues that need resolution and developing creative solutions to resolving the issues. It is typically a more efficient process than a traditional divorce, less costly and protects children from conflict.
When you considering the best approach to divorce for you and your family, it is important to carefully explore all the options that are available so that you choose the option that is best for you and your children. A New Jersey family and divorce lawyer who has experience in alternative resolution strategies can help you determine which method might be best for you and your family.