Divorce is never easy on anyone but can be especially difficult for children involved. To allow the process and transition to be as smooth as possible for children, using the framework of a Child-Centered Divorce can provide the best results. In a Child-Center Divorce, the divorce process is focused on the best situation and circumstances for the couple’s children while leaving the anger and other emotions felt by the spouses out of the decisions.
How Can Attorneys Help Clients Make the Children the Focal Point of a Divorce?
The best way to help the clients focus on their children when their emotions are running high is by utilizing the Collaborative Divorce process. This can entail working with divorce coaches and creating a list of goals for the divorce. These goals are formulated with the intention of providing for the needs of the children after the divorce is complete before other points are addressed.
In a traditional divorce, the process is not geared towards putting the needs of children first. This can leave clients focusing on the effect the divorce is having on their own emotional state, often with the result of the parents fighting, and the court having to make the final decision as to where the children should have a primary residence and what the visitation schedule should be. Since the parents know their children better than a court system (which is just becoming acquainted with them) it is best for parents to come to a collaborative decision regarding the children.
How Does Focusing on the Needs of the Children Change a Divorce?
While most parents do have their children’s best interest at heart, when the divorce begins, they may focus more on how often they can get their children, or how they can limit their spouse from seeing them. The focus becomes more centered on themselves and what they want, and they fail to consider the importance of having both parents in a child’s life. A Child-Centered process will change the focus from fighting for everything to reaching an amicable agreement that provides the children everything they need to feel secure.
What Are the Benefits of Children Centered Divorce?
A Child-Centered Divorce not only allows children to have the benefit of both parents contributing to their life, but it can also provide them with the security that they will continue to have relationships with both parents throughout their life. It is crucial for divorcing spouses to remember that your lives will remain intertwined forever because of your children. Even though the relationship between spouses has changed, the relationship between parent and child should not. Even after children are grown, divorced parents are likely to continue their journey together as grandparents as well. When both spouses agree that they have provided for their children’s needs, there is less fighting and hostility as the years go on. This allows all parties involved to be in a better emotional state. It also provides the children with a healthy model for how conflicts should be handled.
How the Collaborative Divorce Process Keeps the Focus on the Children
In the Collaborative Divorce process, each parent has their own team including an attorney and a coach. The coach helps the parent keep their focus and goals set on the interests of the children. On some occasions, a child specialist – a mental health professional with special expertise working with children – will be part of the team. The child specialist meets with the children and acts as their voice in the process, providing guidance on creating a parenting plan that addresses the children’s needs.
In addition to meetings about parenting plans, other aspects of the divorce should be considered from the focus of the child’s needs. For example, the children should be considered during the asset division and any income-sharing or financial support agreement to ensure that their physical and financial needs will be taken care of. This includes planning for a college education, extra-curricular activities and other needs.
In the meetings that discuss things other than the children, asset division for example, we are still thinking about the needs of the children and how each divorce-related decision will affect the children. If one parent is keeping the house, is that going to affect the children positively? What are the support needs that will make sure the children are properly provided for? Everything is focused on making sure the children are going to be healthy and secure both emotionally and financially.
At the end of a Collaborative Divorce case, we send our clients off into the world. A successful Collaborative Divorce case teaches good communication skills that sets up the parents to be good co-parents and provides the children with a structured post-divorce environment that has been designed specifically for them.