It is no surprise that children are impacted by divorce. The effects of divorce on children are well documented in studies that have examined the behavior and wellbeing of children before and after a divorce. An increase in behavioral problems and family difficulties as well as reduced achievement levels have been demonstrated in both boys and girls post-divorce. However, research has also shown that parents have a great deal of control over this and can take action to help their children better adjust and cope with the changes in their lives. The key is for parents to keep their focus on what is best for their children throughout the divorce process and work with lawyers and other professionals who will support and encourage those efforts.
As early as 1979, researchers realized that the existence of certain influential factors could reduce the negative impact of a divorce on a child. They noted:
For divorced and intact groups combined, the relationships among family members appeared to be more potent influences on child behavior than was marital status. The negative effects of divorce were greatly mitigated when positive relationships with both parents were maintained. The child’s relationship with the non‐custodial parent (father) was as important as the continuing relationship with the mother.
At Jewell Law, we are keenly aware of the research and the impact of what we do on our client’s children. To that end, we seek to educate our clients on these studies, and provide for them resources to help minimize the negative effects of divorce on themselves, and, by corollary, on their children. We work hard with the other parent’s attorney to discuss, reveal and address those impacts, with the desire to support the relationship of the children with both parents through the divorce process and afterwards. In addition, we utilize current psychological and medical concepts and research to help our clients understand how their children are experiencing the divorce and their parent’s behaviors during the process. For example, when a parent is actively restricting or acting in ways to limit the relationship between the child and the other parent, we try to educate all parties and opposing counsel, if possible, on the current research. If that fails, we seek the court’s intervention to engage experts who can help identify and minimize the impact of these behaviors.
Of course, this is not always possible or achievable. When a parent engages in behavior and actions that seriously injure the children, that must be addressed in court and by all involved in the divorce. So, if the other parent has neglected, abused or exposed the children to dangerous and injurious behaviors, we actively and aggressively advocate on behalf of our client as the preferable parent. And, if our client has engaged in such a manner, we offer a frank and supportive atmosphere to help our client address these problems with the goal being to preserve or reinstate the relationship with the children. We know that children fare much better if both parents are actively involved with and close to the children, not only from the studies, but from our experiences as divorce lawyers and mediators.
If you are considering a divorce and worry about the impact on your children, contact us. We will offer a free consultation and share our experiences and the relevant studies to educate you on how to reduce the impact of the divorce on your children, as we strongly believe that they deserve to be protected to the greatest extent possible.