Why the most important people in a divorce are your children

The only aspects of divorce that concerns the law and hence the courts are the children's future wellbeing and the financial arrangements between the divorcing couple.  Nothing else matters.

Whichever of you wants the divorce and why you want the marriage to end is of no concern to anybody apart from you, your family and your friends.  If you divorce using "unreasonable behaviour" as your grounds to divorce then the behaviour complained of does not have to be that unreasonable or, indeed true. 

In many ways the children of a disintegrating marriage suffer more than their parents.  The strength and length of this effect will, to a large extent, depend upon their age and how their parents handle the divorce.  There are four key problem areas that have been identified through research:

Coping with Parental Tension
Even though many divorces are preceded by years of tension between husband and wife the children may not have picked up on this, especially if they are very young.  At the time of the divorce the tension level will increase and probably reach a peak if the divorce goes nuclear.  The best way to handle this inevitable tension is to be honest, straightforward and never ever try to turn your children against your spouse.  That will create an impossible situation for any child.

dreamstime_bear_in_bag_3411225.jpgFear of Change
The children in a divorcing family soon realise that nothing will ever be the same again.  Their previous secure world is in a state of change.  This change will affect every aspect of their lives, not just that either mum or dad will not be around. They will fear losing contact with extended family on one side or the other.  Other vital milestones such as bedtimes, mealtimes and after school routines may also change to create further uncertainty and insecurity.  The long term effect of this on their future lives can be very considerable.

Losing Attachment
Children who have a natural attachment for their parents and the imminent departure of one of them can also trigger the fear of losing other secure relationships such as friends, pets, siblings and neighbours.  They are usually attached to their surroundings and moving into new and unfamiliar house or neighbourhood can cause great stress and unhappiness.

Fear of Being Abandoned
When the parents are in conflict and are either separated or considering separation, the children have a very real fear that if they lose one parent, they may lose the other one too.  The concept of being alone in the world is very frightening for a child.  Children have no benchmark or life experience to be able to see once loving parents parting company in any context.  Try to reduce these fears by explaining that they are still a family unit and still have two parents.

Doing things badly in the divorce process may lead to an inequitable split of the marital assets but not getting it as right as you can for the children can have a lasting effect or their lives for years to come.

Follow Us

Back to top