Choosing to end a marriage can be an extremely difficult decision, especially when children are involved. Divorce is not a one-size-fits-all experience, and many variables affect the difficulty and time required to complete the process. Preparation and realistic expectations can make all the difference.
Here are 5 ways to prepare for a divorce with children.
Focus on the Big Picture
Marriage is an incredibly emotional experience, and divorce is no different. Maintaining emotional control is a necessity while making decisions that can affect the whole family. Avoid dwelling on the negative outcome of your marriage and focus on the positive outcome awaiting your family at the end of your divorce. Try to remain calm and consider how each decision will affect the welfare of your children.
Consider Custodial Arrangements Early
Starting the divorce process with an idea of your ideal custodial arrangement is an excellent way to save time during mediation or negotiation. Although you may have to make some compromises, clearly defining your expectations from the beginning will provide the best chance to achieve your goals. If co-parenting is not an option, consider who the main custodial parent may be and outline a realistic visitation schedule that is in the best interest of your children.
Determine What Support You Will Need (If Any)
Spousal and child support can be a complex and sometimes volatile subject during a divorce. Familiarize yourself with the factors that influence child support calculations in your state. It is important to understand the responsibilities of each spouse’s role as caregivers and the associated financial requirements. Dividing joint finances can be incredibly difficult even for short marriages. Identify the current state of ownership for each asset, joint or individual, and which spouse is the legal owner. Gather all available documentation regarding property, businesses, bank accounts, debt, investments, or other dividable assets and provide your spouse with copies. Having an accurate snapshot of your personal financial situation can help you determine the amount and type of support you may need to give or receive.
Give Your Children Constant Support and Stability
Divorce is hard on everyone, but it can be even more difficult for children who have little to no control over their experience. It is the job of both parents to provide emotional support and stability. Be open and honest with your children about what will happen next and listen to their fears or concerns. Healthy children thrive on routine, but its even more important to maintain their regular schedules during a stressful experience. If one spouse is planning to move out, allow the primary caregiver to remain in the family home with the children. Consider attending family therapy with your children and remain calm and rational if your children experience any behavioral changes.
Despite your best efforts, you may never be fully prepared for a divorce, but following these tips may alleviate some stress and make the entire process run smoother. If your marriage is ending, it’s important to fully understand your options, so you and your spouse can make the decisions that are best for your unique circumstances.
At Andersen, Tate & Carr, our attorneys are dedicated to reaching the best possible outcome for our clients. Trinity Hundredmark heads our Domestic Relations Division. She is an experienced attorney with more than a decade of experience representing clients. For more information, or to request a case evaluation, contact our law office at 1-770-467-3205.