Raising children is difficult in and of itself. When divorce occurs, it makes parenting that much more difficult. In fact, significant research has gone into the effects of divorces on children. Some kids undergo adverse childhood experience, referred to as "ACE." This is an especially stressful state children experience. During divorce and afterward, they question the whole event, and feel the pain and uncertainty. Research now shows that this can be especially detrimental for young children, and that it causes immune system complications, hormonal imbalances, and alters the brain.
It is incredibly important that separating parents take major care in protecting their children. Obviously, if divorce can be avoided, this could potentially be a great option. However, if staying together peacefully is not an option, then several things should occur.
First, have a very straightforward discussion with your spouse or x-spouse. I know this is difficult is some divorces. However, both parents should do this for the sake of the child or children. Clarify to each other, that despite any hostilities toward the other, you will attempt to minimize the effect on the children and prevent them from being caught in the middle. Throughout the divorce, clarify to each other that you will foster and support the relationship between your child and the other parent.
Second, spend quality time with your kids during your parenting time. Make it clear that you value them and that they are a priority. If you have more than one child, spend at least a few minutes each day privately with each child.
Third, schedule a regular parenting time schedule that is most accommodating for the children, yet suitable for both parents. Yes, this is often a difficult chore for the family law attorneys to come up with in each situation. The best parenting plan will be one thoroughly thought out with everyone's needs in mind. During legal negotiations over the parenting time schedule, try to compromise with the other parent when you can. There is a Johnson County Family Law Guideline to help with this. However, no guideline knows your specific schedule or your children's specific needs as well as you and the other parent do. Also, don't just take the parent's schedules into account, but consider what the children need. You may even consider hiring a guardian ad litem "GAL" for the children, to assist with making sure the children's interests are looked after.
Fourth, add structure into their life and schedule. This is important when trying to minimize stress, as structure facilitates safety and predictability.
Fifth, deal with your own issues. If you are completely stressed out or depressed, your child senses this, thus adding to their own stress. Some people can be greatly helped through counseling.
As an Johnson County, KS divorce lawyer, I have seen many different custody battles. I've seen some great outcomes for children and I have seen some terrible outcomes for children. As an experienced lawyer, I believe it is usually best for the parents to work out the parenting schedule rather than leave it to a district judge. However, sometimes trial over these matters simply cannot be avoided.