Divorce is a difficult experience for all involved, but it can be hardest on the children. Young children especially don’t usually have the coping skills to understand what’s going on, why their parents aren’t going to live together anymore and what life is going to look like moving forward. The more civil and friendly the parents can be during and after the divorce, the better it is for the children. One Canadian girl has gone viral after giving her parents advice on how to accomplish this.
The 6-year-old British Columbia girl was videotaped by her mother after she heard her divorced parents arguing. According to reports, she asked to talk to her mother after she heard the fight, and her mother recorded the conversation. In the video widely dispersed online, the girl can be seen telling her mother that she wants both her mother and her father “to be placed, be settled, and be friends.”
The girl continued, telling her mother that if the 6-year-old girl could be nice, both of her parents should be able to as well. She says, “I want you, Mom, my dad, everyone to be friends….If we live in a world where everyone’s being mean, everyone’s going to be a monster.” The girl’s mother responded to video, saying “I was stunned….She is teaching me.”
Divorces are by nature an adversarial process, but making a conscious effort to think about the other person and keep emotions out of the discussions can help immensely. For those interested in a positive divorce, mediation or arbitration may help.
Source: The Huffington Post Canada, “Little Girl’s Wish For Her Divorced Parents: ‘Be Friends’,” Rhianna Schmunk, Sep. 21, 2015
While mediation can be very helpful for some couples during the divorce or separation process, it can also be used again if there are any custody, visitation or even family dynamic issues later on that cause problems. All people and families grow and change over time. One common event that often creates challenges is when one parent decides to get remarried or move in with a new partner.
Even if their parents have been divorced for quite some time, it can still be a shock to children that their parent is moving on with another person. For many, it forces them to come to terms with the idea that their parents are not going to get back together. As children deal with this new reality and process these changes, they may act out or try to play one parent off of the other. They may also express a desire to live with the other parent. This can put things like custody and visitation schedules back in play.
It’s best if biological parents and stepparents can work together to enforce standards for how the children should treat the new partner. Since stepparents don’t have any relational authority over the children until the children have accepted their presence and built up some rapport, stepparents need to relegate their authority to that which the biological parent gives them and supports.
It’s important to understand that these transitions can take some time. However, if you find that there are ongoing issues that are bleeding into the custody and visitation aspects of your arrangement, a lawyer may be able to discuss your situation with you and offer some options, including another round of mediation.
Source: Focus on the Family, “The smart step-parent,” Ron L. Deal, accessed Oct. 09, 2015
For a child who has always had both parents in the same home, a divorce is a traumatic experience. Your child will go through a transition during this time. For some children, simply knowing that their parents don’t hate each other can go a long way towards making the transition easier. Any parents who are divorced might consider making a few changes in their co-parenting style to help their children cope with the new lifestyle.
Keeping all communication between you and your ex amicable can help your children. If you have any touchy subjects or topics that you think might cause a disagreement, it is best to discuss those when the children aren’t present. Just because there is still some tension or some hard feelings between you and your ex doesn’t mean the children have to know.
When you and your ex are having disagreements, make sure that you don’t put the children in the middle. You shouldn’t have the children play messenger because that often makes them feel like they have to choose one parent over the other. Plus, it can make them feel insecure and uncomfortable.
If it is possible for you and your ex to work together, consider creating a consistent environment for your child. You can work together to ensure that all major rules are the same at both homes. Some other minor rules might differ, but children thrive on consistency. The same is true for discipline, rewards and schedules.
Just because you and your ex couldn’t stand to live in the same home any longer doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t co-parent. In some cases, having a clear and detailed parenting plan might help to set the tone for the co-parenting relationship.
Source: HelpGuide.org, “Co-Parenting Tips for Divorced Parents,” accessed Oct. 29, 2015
Even during a collaborative divorce in British Columbia, you may face a fair amount of anxiety and stress throughout the process, and it’s important to know how you can deal with this. Below are a few tips that may help:
1. Remember that it takes hard work. If you think it’s going to be quick and easy from the beginning, it can be discouraging when it takes a lot of time and effort. The right mindset from the get-go makes that easier.
2. Focus on what you have. People often feel like they are losing a lot in the divorce, especially if it really limits their financial future. Instead of focusing on that, think about what you do have—a warm home, a bed to sleep in, and perhaps your children. Things are changing, but life is still very good on the whole.
3. Channel your energy into positive action. It’s easy to feel scared or stressed, and it may be unavoidable. Rather than letting it overwhelm you, use this energy to push you and help you work toward what you want.
4. Remember that you may never be fully free from a relationship with your ex. This is especially true if you have children. Again, it’s all about having the right mindset. If you realize that you have to deal with this person, even if it’s hard, you can commit yourself to work toward making the most of it, rather than constantly wishing you didn’t have to do it.
If you’d like to learn more helpful tips or find out if a collaborative divorce is right for you, please contact us today.
Having realistic expectations is one of the most important things you can do to keep the stress involved in a divorce as low as possible. By understanding all of the possible options and what each entails, you will be better prepared to handle the surprises and delays common to divorces without losing sight of the end goal.
Two commonly misunderstood methods of divorcing are the alternative dispute resolution methods of arbitration and mediation. While both of these are ways that couples can avoid dealing with going to trial and having the family courts make the final decisions about the divorce issues, they differ in fundamental ways.
In mediation, the couple and their legal representatives play a major role in discussing the terms of the settlement. The goal is to come to an agreement that both parties are willing to abide by and then present that to the family courts to be ordered.
However, the terms of a mediation are not generally legally binding until the judge makes the final order. This gives the couple more flexibility. In arbitration, the third party is slightly more than a facilitator and can actually make negotiation legally binding. In this case, neither party would be able to appeal once the arbitration was completed and a decision made.
While both of these methods have their benefits and drawbacks, both offer the ability to save time and often money over going through an entire trial. In some cases, it may also be possible for the couple to come to an agreement on some issues and only need to go to trial for the parts that could not be negotiated.
Source: Huffington Post, “Your Demeanor Can Affect Your Divorce Mediation,” Diane L. Danois, accessed Oct. 16, 2015