If you are considering divorce, it’s common to want to avoid or postpone divorce to protect your kids.

As a family lawyer for over 20 years, I often hear parents voice intense concern that their kids would have a hard time adjusting to a divorce.  And many parents do choose to stay married in an effort to spare their kids that kind of pain.

What is most often overlooked – and not commonly known – is that it is the conflict between parents in the home that leaves an impact, not the divorce itself.  The actual divorce just the legal dissolution of a marriage, a piece of paper, really.

What is most emotionally destructive to children is the conflict that exists in the home.  It doesn’t matter if you shout at each other or not.  It’s the way you, as parents, might be interacting within the home that can be the most emotionally damaging to kids.

Unfortunately, I know this all too well.  I was 13 when my parents actually divorced.  But I can tell you that was the relief.

The real difficulties were during the years that preceded the actual divorce.  There was the ever-present fear and anxiety of not knowing what would happen at any given moment.

Whether my parents yelled at each other or treated each other with disrespect or indifference, the result was mounting fear and anxiety accompanied by constant headaches and stomach aches.

And having a front-row seat to an unhealthy marital relationship as a child does not bode well for that child’s ability to engage in healthy romantic relationships later in life.

Therefore, if you’ve decided to divorce, it can be valuable to look to the kind of future that you want your kids to enjoy with each of you.  You can start right away by taking concrete steps to minimize conflict in the home.

It’s also important to know that it is generally best for kids to spend time with each of you on a regular basis.  So, to this end, you might work together to come up with a mutually agreeable custody and parenting time agreement that benefits the kids.

It can be helpful to think in terms of cooperation instead of confrontation, difficult as that can be in the midst of a divorce.

Because when you both commit to an amicable divorce and your actions reflect that commitment, you are modeling resiliency in the face of change for your kids.

You might consider putting aside differences to sit together at your child’s next concert or other important activity.  Because when your children see you together united in their support, it goes a long way, and your children will be forever grateful.

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