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How can the impact of divorce be lessened for a child?

Marriage dissolution can be an emotionally trying time. After all, spouses that have, in some instances, spent decades together have to untangle their shared lives, which can expose old and fresh wounds and threaten financial instability. The process can be even more heart-wrenching when children are involved. How a divorce involving children is handled may be crucial for the child's well-being for years to come.

According to the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, although most children are able to successfully adjust to life post-divorce, about one-fourth of them face ongoing behavioral and emotional problems. These problems can be exacerbated when parents are unable to co-parent, which impacts approximately one-third of all divorced couples. So, what can divorcing couples do to help lessen the impact on their children?

There are many things parents can do. First, they should consider telling their children about the divorce together, thereby giving the image of a family that is merely changing. This also helps prevent one parent from being portrayed as the villain. Second, it is important for parents to tell their children that they, in no way, are responsible for the divorce. Third, parents should tell their children that they are loved and that everything will be okay. Fourth, once a parenting plan is in place, parents should be sure to stick to it and avoid cancelling time with their children. Another thing parents can do is ensure that they encourage a loving relationship between the child and their other parent.

Marriage dissolution can be challenging on many levels. To help the process play out as smoothly as possible and hopefully avoid negative impacts on children, divorcing couples may want to speak with their attorneys to find the best way to approach their marriage dissolution. An amicable divorce may allow a divorced couple to settle child custody and child support matters in a way that is fair and maintains the integrity of the family.

Source: American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, "Children and Divorce," accessed on Mar. 3, 2017

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