Making the decision to end your marriage isn’t easy. There are many people who will be affected – including your family, spouse, and friends. However, your children are among the most sensitive (and will be most affected) by separation. Multiple studies show that kids are more likely to experience stress, lower academic performance, and behavioral disorders after their parents undergo divorce.
Children typically view their parents as superheroes. In your child’s eyes, you and your spouse should be able to solve even the most complex problems. This is why kids are often confused and distressed when their parents choose to end the marriage and go their separate ways.
It can be challenging to balance between ending your marriage and minimizing the impact on your children. To make this decision and process easier, you should understand how kids are typically affected by divorce, what family law says with regards to ending a marriage, and how you can minimize the impact of separation on children.
Effects of Divorce On Kids
Children are affected by divorce in many different ways. Because most consequences are emotional, behavioral, and psychological, being aware of (and dealing with) these challenges early will prevent your kids from being affected over the long term.
Some of the most common effects include:
1. Increased Stress And Depression Levels
Divorce often comes with lots of instability and uncertainty. Your daily family routine will change, and you may not necessarily have a solid plan for what lies ahead. This uncertainty is what affects kids the most. Your child may need to move to a new location, switch schools, or get used to a new parent (for those looking to remarry). These sudden changes are what increase stress and depression levels in affected children.
2. It May Affect Economic Stability
In most divorce cases, the separating spouses experience a noticeable (if not significant) reduction in income. In fact, most divorcees need a 30% increase in income just to maintain their previous lifestyles. Even more concerning is that women are disproportionally affected (economically) during divorce than men.
The impact of significant economic change is often felt most heavily by children from the marriage. This is because the instability in domestic living and expenses will directly influence your child’s ability to live a life similar to what they had before.
3. Lower Academic Performance
Your school-aged child may also experience lower academic performance after your divorce. This is because kids tend to undergo behavioral challenges during this time and it ultimately affects their grades. In more serious cases, the child may be unable to graduate from high school and may even end up falling into drugs/crime (if they don’t receive the support they need).
Reducing the Negative Effects of Divorce On Children
In an ideal world, parents wouldn’t have to separate. However, there are always cases where a divorce is the best option for the parties involved. You can reduce the negative effects of divorce on your children by taking a proactive approach to the separation process. This involves planning ahead, seeking help and resources for your children, and collaborating with your former spouse to make the divorce proceed smoothly.
1. Develop A Co-Parenting Plan
Under California family law, co-parenting is the preferred approach to raising kids from separated parents. Former spouses are encouraged to come up with a legally binding co-parenting plan that can be reviewed and approved by a judge.
This plan should be developed with the best interests of the children and not just the parents. In this way, conflict is reduced and your kids will be less likely to experience behavioral disorders.
2. Avoid Putting Pressure On Your Kids
Many separating parents tend to put their kids on the spot. For example, asking your kids to choose which parent they prefer can lead to anxiety and depression. You should avoid putting your kids in the middle of any conflict with your spouse. Instead, look for ways of handling such conflict away from your children.
3. Maintain A Positive Relationship
The stress and uncertainty of divorce may cause you to pull away from your children. You may be pre-occupied with settling financial disputes, custody disagreements, and other legal matters such that you end up ignoring your kids. Strive to maintain a positive relationship with our children throughout the process. Remind them that you still care, and encourage them to open up about how they’re feeling.
4. Know The Law And How It Can Help With Your Separation Process
California’s family law is constantly evolving to make divorce as smooth as possible. If you’re thinking about separation, consult a family lawyer to explore your options. There are provisions in the law that protect children’s rights, domestic abuse victims, and economically-disadvantaged spouses.