Divorce is difficult for everyone involved. The parents experience a range of emotions, from liberation to isolation, when ending their primary relationship. For minor children from the marriage, it can be even more emotionally complicated and stressful.
Children often internalize the negativity of a divorce, believing it is their fault or that something they did contributed to the breakdown of their family. The more contentious and acrimonious you and your former spouse become, the harder it gets to protect your children from the emotional consequences of a divorce.
Older children may get asked by the courts to choose which parent they’d rather live with. Needing to make that choice can feel like taking sides. Children may worry about losing the love of the non-custodial parent. They may also end up hearing things about one or both of their parents during divorce hearings and testimony that could damage their relationship with their parents.
That doesn’t mean that you should stay in a miserable marriage to protect your children. You should consider every option, like mediation, to limit the emotional and social impact of divorce on your children.
Mediation protects kids and empowers parents
Mediation in divorce means sitting down with your former spouse to discuss all the points you don’t currently agree on, such as custody or asset division. Typically, each parent will bring his or her own attorney. There will also be a neutral third party who oversees and directs the proceedings.
You and your former spouse will sit together and talk through issues that you currently don’t agree on. You will both need to compromise on certain issues. If you are willing to give it your best effort, however, both of you and your children will benefit from mediation.
Mediation protects your children from the worst parts of your divorce. There’s no telling the courts who they want to live with and there’s no exposure to angry testimony about parents’ worst behaviors. The reduction in harm is one important consideration. Another is that it allows you to set a much more positive example for your children. They likely already know that you and your ex have trouble agreeing, but then they see you deciding to work together and compromise. That helps show how cooperation and hard work can be better than anger and fighting.
The outcome of your mediation discussions will likely be some kind of shared custody. Your children will benefit from having positive, ongoing relationships with each of their parents. You, as the ones determining the terms of your divorce arrangement, can both feel empowered to make better decisions for everyone involved in your family. If you believe you can work with your former spouse and compromise, mediation can be an excellent alternative to standard divorce.