Raising resilient and well-adjusted children is often a challenge, even in the best of circumstances. Add a separation or divorce to this task and rearing emotionally healthy children between two homes may seem like an impossibility. Fortunately, you don’t have to figure out how to do this by yourself. There is an often-overlooked option available for you and your coparent that increases your odds of having a healthier post-divorce relationship and provides you with tools to keep your children out of the emotional crossfire of your divorce.
This healthier alternative for divorcing parents is called Collaborative Law. Although Collaborative Law is not the right process for everyone, should you and your co-parent desire a private, structured, and respectful process, a collaborative divorce may be the best way to peacefully end your marriage while avoiding a judicial system that often sets parents up as adversaries.
In the collaborative divorce process, you and your co-parent will be guided by a team of professionals with extensive training in alternative dispute resolution techniques. Your team shares a mutual goal of addressing the holistic needs and interests of your family in ways that minimize the negative effects of conflict. Your collaborative team will consist of an attorney for each of you, a neutral Mental Health Professional, also known as a Communications Coach, and a neutral Financial Professional. Although your individually retained lawyer remains your advocate throughout the process, your lawyer will not engage in an adversarial or argumentative manner with other members of your team, even if you and your coparent are having difficulty seeing eye-to-eye.
Your collaborative team understands that grieving and emotionally-drained divorcing parents spend a great deal of effort and energy focusing on how to continue meeting their children’s fundamental needs for food, clothing, and shelter and in the process, may unknowingly underestimate the importance of addressing their children’s emotional health. While knowing other children from divorced homes may provide some understanding for your children of what it means for their parents to divorce, this does little to prepare them for their own reality of divorcing parents and often, neither the parents nor the children know how to cope with the added stressors and changing family dynamics. For this reason, your team may recommend a neutral Child Specialist who will meet with your children throughout the divorce process and provide feedback to the team regarding ways to best help your children feel secure, supported, and loved, and maybe, even how to break the news to them. Learn more about how to break the news to your children by clicking the link here. Your Child Specialist may also assist your Mental Health Professional in developing a post-divorce plan for parenting time that is a unique reflection of your family’s particular lifestyle and a shared desire to work together in helping your children to become strong and resilient people.
Creating an emotionally and physically safe environment for your children is a key element to their well-being and to the successful outcome of a divorce. The outcome rests on you and your coparents desire and ability to work together in ways that allow you to preserve your emotional energy and financial resources while working through disputes and coming to agreements. Whatever your issues are with your coparent, remember that these are parent issues and not child issues. A parent can be a great parent but a lousy spouse. Divorcing couples say this is a hard concept to remember, especially if there are significant feelings of betrayal and a long history of misunderstandings. While it will take some mindfulness during a time when you feel like you may be losing yours, putting forth the effort will provide your children with the best opportunity moving forward to adjust, thrive, and succeed.