Child custody is the area of divorce that causes the most stress for parents going through a separation or divorce. Most of us have heard stories of how a divorce “tore” a family apart and hurt the children’s childhood. In the worst stories, people say it was the divorce that was the catalyst for the child’s bad behavior and what led them down the wrong path. We understand that our clients are fearful of this happening within their divorce. Below our compassionate staff has put together a few tips to help divorcing parents deal with the divorce process, and how to help your children throughout this tough time as well.
Listen to Your Child’s Needs
First, it is always important for you to be the “safe” place for your child’s voice and their feelings. Many studies have shown that children need to have a “safe” place to voice their opinions and feelings during and after a divorce. “Safe” places are those free of loyalty problems that are commonly found inside post-separation homes. The children should not feel like they have to pick sides between one parent or the other. The more opportunities that you can give your child to talk about their feelings, the more likely they are to adapt to their new lifestyle healthily. It is important to remember that being the safe place for your child’s voice, however, is not the same as asking your child to make major decisions that you or the other parent should be making on their behalf. South Carolina Family Court has professionally trained adults who can be appointed to your case, whose job it is to investigate and observe the child to better understand the child’s wants and needs. These appointed individuals can be guardians ad Litem, parenting coordinators, or child therapists. These appointees will help to determine the proper role of each parent and the child during and after the divorce or separation.
Try and Keep Things as Predictable as Possible for Your Child
Children are very adaptable individuals, however anytime they are experiencing high-stress circumstances or traumatic instances, predictability adds security to their life. This added security can help to strengthen their sense of self and help build their self-esteem. As a responsible parent, you need to work to make sure parenting schedules are put in place to allow for predictability for the child. It can be upsetting to have your role as a parent seemingly reduced to days or nights marked on a calendar, but having this type of structure will help your child’s quality of life. Your children will adjust more quickly to their new reality if it is consistent. Once the child adjusts and time goes by, it will be less difficult, and scheduling can become more flexible.
Be a Role Model for Your Child or Children
You are more influential to how your child handles the divorce than most people are aware. Remember, children model and often replicate their parents’ behavior in both the good light and the bad. The way you go about handling your divorce and the way you speak about your ex-spouse will be mirrored by your children. Your child’s perception and experience of the divorce is almost all in your own hands. Family court cases are stressful, and we understand that you will be occasionally frustrated and angry about how your family case is progressing, but remember to handle your emotions outside of the presence of your child. There will be times when your ex-spouse gets on your nerves, but keep that out of view of your children. The best parent for your child is almost always both parents. Try and honor that at all times when your children are around or within hearing distance. Also, remind other faily members to adopt the same attitude and create the healthiest living experience for your children.
Remember to Always be Discreet
Your divorce will involve lots of paperwork from the family court, and even if you agree on everything, this paperwork contains many details that are not child-appropriate. When your family is dealing with a separation or divorce, take steps to be discreet with the adult-only discussions and details of the process. Keep all of your paperwork put away in a safe place. Children are much more perceptive, even at young ages than we imagine. Banking records, therapists and doctors papers, and court documents should not be where your child can get to them. Also, schedule all your attorney phone calls when your children will not be around or within earshot. Do not let your children overhear you discussing your divorce case with other adults or colleagues. Kids are not equipped to handle the complexities of a divorce case, more so, they are not capable of handling one parent’s negative feelings about the other. Keeping your children protected from these adult realities can go a long way to helping them cope and get through the divorce process.
During the Mediation Process, Make a Good-faith Effort
Mediation is usually the last step to resolving your family court matter before turning over the decision making power to a judge. One hopes that by the time the mediation is scheduled for your case, you have obtained proper legal counsel to help educate you on how the South Carolina laws affect the facts of your case. Your attorney should also help you to anticipate the best way to negotiate a proper and fair settlement. Pairing your divorce attorney’s resources and advice with a skilled family court mediator puts you in the best position to resolve any contested issues through mediation without the additional expense of a long trial. Having the mediation will help you to get what is best for your child. When cases go to trial, a judge must then decide what is best for your child. No one enjoys turning over a decision about their children’s well being to an outside individual. While the judge will try to do what is in your child’s best interests, your child would benefit more if both parents could decide or compromise for the betterment of the child.
Consult with a Family Law Attorney in Greenville Today
At Greenville Family Law, our competent legal team has years of experience dealing with all different types of family court and divorce cases. Our South Carolina attorneys will help you navigate through this complex legal process. We take pride in helping families come to fair resolutions throughout their divorce and custody cases. If you have questions regarding your divorce or other family law issues, please call our office today to speak with an experienced South Carolina family law attorney.