Will divorce cause long-term damage for our children?
In this article, you’ll find answers to questions like:
1. Can divorce ever be a good thing?
2. How can I help my kids through this?
3. Where can I get help?
If you’re considering ending your marriage, you may be wondering how your children will cope in the aftermath. Fortunately, local therapists and research indicate parents can mitigate a lot of damage associated with divorce.
1. CAN DIVORCE EVER BE A GOOD THING?
Unhappily married parents have a much greater chance of creating unhappy children if they remain together, says Randy Heller, a licensed marriage/family therapist and adjunct professor at Nova Southeastern University. If children live in a home with prolonged depression, anxiety, impatience, anger, conflict and/or stress, it can manifest in unhealthy behaviors.
“While managing their own dissatisfaction, parents may become hyper-focused on their children, creating a co-dependency. Or conversely, they might begin to neglect their children because they are focused on their own challenges,” she says. “Also, research indicates that children in these environments don’t have good role models for communication, problem-solving and romantic relationships … and they may look outside of their home for emotional support because their family isn’t functioning well.”
2. HOW CAN I HELP MY KIDS THROUGH THIS?
Parents can explore collaborative divorce, a non-adversarial separation that enlists mental health professionals, attorneys and financial professionals to holistically aid the family, Heller says. By working together, parents can settle their matter with less fighting and find support. She also recommends reading “The Good Divorce” by Constance Ahrons.
“A collaborative divorce involves others teaching parents to problem-solve, co-parent and share their children,” she says.
Other ways to help your children are to keep them out of your conflict, not invite them to make decisions and limit negativity. Children see themselves in their parents, so criticizing your spouse means you are criticizing them.
“As the divorce unfolds, that’s when you share your decisions with the kids and only on an as-needed basis,” Heller says. “My belief is that children only want the details they need. They don’t need details regarding the breakup.”
3. WHERE CAN I GET HELP?
If you’re ending a marriage that involves domestic violence, the Family Law Project of the Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County offers low-cost or free divorce support. The society also offers a list of attorneys who may assist with any type of divorce on a reduced-fee basis, says Ross Baer, a family law attorney.
Palm Beach County’s Clerk & Comptroller Office provides a Divorce Workshop Toolbox, a free online tutorial on the legalities of divorce. Second Saturday, based in Boca Raton, offers monthly divorce workshops online that outline local resources. Check for fees.
Heller is a board member for the Florida Academy of Collaborative Professionals and a member of the Collaborative Family Law Institute, a community of attorneys specializing in family law, neutral financial professionals and mental health professionals who work together to help couples divorce amicably.
• Randy Heller, licensed marriage/family therapist; adjunct professor, Nova Southeastern University; board member, Florida Academy of Collaborative Professionals; member, Collaborative Family Law Institute
• Ross Baer, family law attorney, Family Law Project of the Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County
• “The Good Divorce” by Constance Ahrons
You May Also Like
Tips to communicate with your partner while raising a teen
Honesty and support are a couple of key ingredients in these three expert tips to boost harmony with your partner. …Read More
Need protection? Here's how to file for a restraining order
Getting away from a dangerous relationship can be scary. Filing for protection from the court can be even more overwhelming. Read on to learn what you can expect when you file a te …Read More
Clerk & Comptroller Palm Beach County
Self-Service Centers – go-to source for help navigating the court system at locations throughout Palm Beach County, providing the resources to represent yourself, access the courts and much more. The center offers public access computers; user-friendly legal forms; free navigator assistance with form preparation; notary, copy and fax services; video relay system for the hearing impaired; mail order form request line; community resource referrals (legal, mediation, counseling, elder and social services)561-355-7048 Website Email
Palm Beach County Clerk & Comptroller
Unified Family Court — handles cases related to family issues, including injunctions, restraining orders, affidavits and more561-355-6511 Website Email
Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County
Individual Rights Advocacy — free legal services for the disadvantaged related to health care, housing, consumer issues, wage disputes and immigration561-655-8944 Website Email