In a traditional divorce, parents are often battling between themselves about how to take care of the children, both financially and emotionally, when the family is no longer living together in one household. One of our goals with our clients is to assist them with a post-divorce budget that is related to the children in ways that decreases the contention in a divorce and puts the focus on the best interests of the children.
Focusing on a Child-Centered Divorce
One of the starting points in budgeting is to sit down with the parents and asking them to do their best at filling out a budget form. We may ask them to bring in their checkbook so we can go over everything and isolate those expenses that only relate to the children. Expenses include clothing, childcare, those related to daily living, extracurricular activities, additional educational needs, and others.
In most cases, children are spending time post-divorce in two homes. The goal is to create a living experience for the children that is as close to the one they had prior to the parents’ divorce no matter which home they are in.
We also need to forecast to the future and estimate what those costs might be. Will the children need transportation? Their own vehicle? How will college expenses and weddings be paid for? What if a grandchild needs funding? We go as deep as the parents want to go. The divorce process is always focused on the children first.
We do our best to be sure the process is unobtrusive. We want the children to feel as little disruption to their lives as possible. We want the children to know that not much is going to change. Mom and Dad are still Mom and Dad and are still going to love them, still be available when the child needs them, and are still going to participate in the children’s life events.
Collaborative Divorce Process and Children
We have found that the Collaborative Divorce process enables a child-centered divorce to happen. It gives the decision-making power to the parents. When the decision-making rests with the judge, in many jurisdictions the case load is so heavy that the judge is reading the relevant documents just moments before the parents enter the courtroom. It seems as though the judge makes decisions almost on the fly. Whereas when the decisions are made together by the parents, they are more likely to be followed down the road.
The Collaborative Divorce process is an excellent way to keep your divorce child centered. Doing so results in happy and emotionally healthier children because their parents realized the importance of their needs throughout the divorce.