How a Divorce Lawyer Can Minimise the Impact of Separation on Children

Divorce is hard in almost every situation but it becomes even more difficult when children are involved. Parents separating can be extremely destabilising and confusing for children. This distress can be minimised. Research has shown that negative outcomes for children are not inevitable and there are many things that can be done to reduce risk factors and promote resilience in your children. Utilising the services of a divorce lawyer like Shannon Bodeker can provide parents with the skills and techniques needed to help their children through this trying time. The importance of the parent’s role in helping children cope with divorce cannot be overstated. It is primarily parents who can mitigate and reverse potentially negative outcomes for their children.

Child and Parents holding hands

It is often not the actual divorce that impacts children so heavily but the conflict that can surround it. The worse this conflict gets the worse potential negative outcomes may be. Most research identifies three main factors that can impact children’s wellbeing during and after a divorce. The first and foremost being the degree and duration of any hostile conflict. Second, the quality of the relationship between each parent and child and third, the quality of parenting prior to separation and after the divorce has occurred. Underlying these three factors are the parent’s own well-being and emotional capacity. Through a family lawyer like Shannon Bodeker, families can learn how to manage conflict and work to improve the parent-child relationship. This will likely have a positive effect on their children even as they undergo a potentially major difficult change in their lives.

Managing Conflict and Reframing Relationships

How parents manage the strong emotions that go hand in hand with ending a marriage and creating a new life can make a huge difference in a child’s reaction to it. It is imperative that parents try to learn how to manage and control any verbally, and especially physically, hostile or intense behaviour. Exposure to domestic violence and abuse is particularly toxic for children and can have a long-term effect on their emotional wellbeing. Reframing the relationship and setting clear rules and boundaries for interaction can assist. This reframing can be done with respect to children’s rights to a healthy relationship with both parents. Children should not be used as messengers or informants and transitions between parents must be safe and respectful. When conflict is intense and unavoidable parallel parenting can be beneficial, where parents have limited contact.

Effective Parenting – Nurturing Parent-Child Relationships

High-quality parenting can be extremely beneficial at ensuring children’s well-being during a divorce. This is defined as a combination of warmth and nurturing while maintaining effective limit-setting and discipline. Reassuring children, especially that the divorce is not their fault, is also crucial to maintaining their wellbeing. Even when this is reaffirmed children will still blame themselves so constant checking in and assurance is necessary. Creating routines for shared activities and bonding as well as being empathetic to verbal and nonverbal indications of feelings will also help to nurture and provide warmth.

During a separation, many parents become more lenient with their children and avoid discipline as they do not wish to cause further distress. This can actually have a detrimental effect. Children rely on discipline for their own sense of control and predictability. Losing that will only increase the negative feelings that are already arising from the divorce. While keeping up with discipline can create stability in an unstable time communication needs to remain open and honest. Respecting and acknowledging children’s feelings will help the family to stay connected and legitimise the emotions your child is going through.

Ultimately, to minimise the impact your divorce will have on your children the most important things you can do are manage conflict between you and your partner, create an environment free of hostility, respect and nurture your children, keep up with positive reinforcement of appropriate behaviour, have routines of care and continue or implement routine leisure and bonding activities. There are many other ways our family and divorce lawyer Shannon Bodeker at Bodekers Family Law & Mediators can help!

For more information regarding our free services in divorce please email our Legal Practitioner Director Shannon Bodeker directly at info@bodekers.com.au now for your complimentary pre-read and your first appointment at a reduced rate.