So, you have decided that you want – or rather, need – a divorce. Maybe you woke up one day and realized that you’re living with someone you can’t trust. Maybe you both mutually agreed that you no longer love each other. Maybe there is an unspoken coldness between you, one that supplants passionate fighting with feelings of loneliness and boredom, even when you’re in the same room together. Or maybe, you realized that you’re constantly on the defensive, feeling cornered, interrogated, and mistrusted at every step.
There are countless “good” reasons to seek separation and divorce. But for many married couples, there’s more to the act of divorce than a split household and financial interests. There are also children to think about. While deciding to divorce your partner doesn’t require you to think about your kids, you should consider when you want to time said divorce. There may be a good and bad time to divorce, depending on a few surrounding circumstances.
Thinking About the Kids
Every adult in a marriage with a person they no longer love or feel hurts them too much should pursue every option they have to seek safety and figure out a path to legal separation or divorce. If you are in a violent or abusive situation, getting away from your partner is a top prerogative. Seek out the proper local resources immediately, and get the help of a legal professional as soon as possible.
But know that a divorce can have a long-term impact on the kids, specifically in cases where both parents have a strong parental bond with their children and love their children very much. Two parents can each be a good parents, but bad partners towards one another. In these cases, it can be difficult to find the right path towards separation. Depending on how you go about it, you might be able to lessen the pain or at least minimize its impact.
Recent Losses and Struggles
We are still collectively fighting a pandemic, one that has thus far claimed the lives of nearly 600,000 Americans. A recent loss can have a tremendous impact on a child’s stability and mental health, and following it up with a divorce announcement could be too much sometimes.
There are circumstances where it’s healthier for a child to have their parents separate than if they were to stay together – for example, if your marriage has led to explosive fighting and even moments of potential violence as a result of the mandates of this pandemic, then getting your child out of such an abusive situation (and away from a potential abuser) is critical.
But outside of these extreme circumstances, the impact of a divorce may be exacerbated by other factors. It’s okay to consider getting help for yourself and your children after a divorce if they seem to struggle to cope with the ensuing changes. It’s also important to note that there should, ideally, be no stigma against making use of available mental health resources, including therapy.
School, Stability, and the Status Quo
When separating from your partner, it’s important to preempt the radical changes that can and sometimes do occur. These can include a radical change of scenery and include a change of financial circumstances (even with child support) and a potential shift to a new environment.
Do note that plans to radically alter your child’s stable day-to-day life (including where they go to school, the neighborhood they live in, and by extension, the children they play with) can have an impact on your chances at custody. Consider holding off on moving out of town right after the divorce or moving in with a new partner (and your child). If and when you do move, consider getting something nearby until enough time has passed that you’d feel more comfortable planning a bigger move.
How Willing Are You to Work Together?
You can drastically reduce the impact a divorce might have on a child by working amicably on your parenting plan. You might not like your partner (and that might be the understatement of the century, for some), but are you willing to put aside fairly significant differences to try and find ways to raise your child as single, albeit cooperative parents? Doing so won’t just massively simplify the custody and divorce battles but can help your child adapt to divorce.
You Have Your Own Make-or-Break Moments
You can choose to plan your divorce together so that the emotional impact it might have on your children is minimized. But that doesn’t mean you need to endure relentless personal suffering because you think it might spare your children. Divorce will hurt one way or the other, and you might be underestimating how much your own pain is affecting your kids as well.
Choosing the right time to divorce is not the only way to affect how your separation will affect the kids. There are many other factors to consider, especially how you handle the ensuing custody battle and how you approach parenting as two separated single parents. If you both love your kids, and if your kids love you both, then both you and your ex need to find a way to share the responsibilities and joys of parenting, even if you can no longer be partners the way you once were. That means continuing to make an effort even after the divorce to ensure that your child has access to both parents.
You don’t need to bend over backward for your ex – in fact, you shouldn’t. There is a strict line between doing the best for your kids and bowing down to your ex’s personal wishes. If you’re unsure how to figure out your next steps, or need to prepare for custody or visitation discussions, be sure to seek out experienced legal help. No amount of advice on the internet will replace the personalized advice of an attorney.