Divorces are traumatic for everyone no matter how bad the relationship turned out to be. If you have children, research consistently shows that the children suffer as well.
Children have high expectations for their parents to meet all their needs and fully expect that they will do so. When the parents separate or divorce, their beliefs can be shattered and they consider the breakup as a betrayal of their understanding of what is normal or expected. Children may come to resent the custodial and absent parent or blame themselves for the dissolution.
Family research studies have come to a number of findings about the children of divorced parents compared to those in families that stay together:
Children of divorced parents tend to have lower grades, more behavioral problems in school and more likely to drop out of high school.
Children who commit crimes are typically from divorced homes.
They are more likely to live in poverty as a result of a significant loss of income by the custodial parent following a divorce.
Children are more at risk for alcohol and drug use.
The children suffer more from psychological distress that can last into adulthood. This can result in a greater risk of experiencing or committing domestic violence and being unable to stay in a marriage.
In the throes of a divorce and for months or years afterwards, parents are coping with their own emotional needs as well as dealing with financial issues. Though parents do their best to care and attend to their children’s needs, they are experiencing extreme stress and may not be as attentive as before, leading children to feel abandoned especially if a parent is seeking sexual or emotional satisfaction with another or multiple partners. Even if a parent enters into a new relationship and remarries, the loss remains with them and many never get over the divorce.
What Happens to the Children in a Divorce?
It is complicated when a divorce is occurring since both parents will still have to interact when minor children are involved. In Florida, the issue is timesharing. Courts apply the “best interests” test in determining which parent will take custody and will not want to interrupt the child’s schooling or general well-being. In contested matters, it is not unusual for child psychologists and other experts to become involved.
Florida also uses the concept of Shared Parental Responsibility so that both parents retain equal decision making in the major issues concerning the children such as education, religion and health.
Before a divorce is granted, Florida law requires that both parents participate in a parenting class. Although only about 4 hours in duration and which can be completed online in some cases, it reviews the effects of divorce on the children and the legal issues involved and dealing with co-parenting and stress.
Before you divorce, consider whether your marriage is worth saving and if couples counseling can be a means to repair what may at first appear to be a hopeless situation. Many divorcing parents feel their children are well-adjusted and would never engage in destructive behavior or feel the stress of the breakup but studies show otherwise. Preparing your children for a divorce is essential and seeking professional help for them and for yourself may help minimize the emotional and other risks they face when parents’ divorce.
Also, consult with a Florida divorce attorney before you file. There are many issues involved in divorces where minor children are involved and being fully informed and prepared will help lessen the trauma that usually accompanies such a major step.