Divorce & Your Children
Divorce is a rocky road for couples of any age, full of emotional and financial potholes. But you don't need to set off without a map. The American Association of Marriage and Family has advice on keeping your family in healthy communication while you find your way through divorce.
Mediation is a place to start. In mediation, former partners meet with an impartial person who helps them come up with agreements about finances and parenting that can be brought to a judge or reviewed by attorneys. There are various types of mediation. Usually, trained mediators act as facilitators to help the divorcing couple recognize their underlying emotional conflict, and address it in a constructive, problem-solving, therapeutic environment.
Collaborative divorce may sound too good to be true, but it avoids a legal battle. The collaborative approach is when the couple and their attorneys formerly agree to reach a settlement without going to court. The process is lead by "communication coaches," trained in negotiation. Clients work with their coaches, who then bring in professionals such as therapists, family counselors, accountants, and child specialists to work through the emotional issues and reach agreements.
Co-parent counseling and parent coordination can help couples who struggle with decisions regarding children in the midst of divorce. Counselors who work with children after divorce can help parents avoid creating issues that will lead to conflict later. For example, parents need to plan for who takes children to doctors appointments, who attends after-school activities, and how to involve new stepparents. For former partners who can't resolve parenting issues, a parenting coordinator can act as a liason to keep conflict away from children and monitor compliance with any plan to maintain healthy and safe parent-child relationships.
Maintaining communication during divorce may not be easy, but with support and resources you can manage the conflict, get through the grief and anger, and emerge from a divorce in the place you want to be.