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Helping your children survive a divorce

Rhode Island residents understand how difficult a divorce can be. Going through a divorce with children can be even that much more challenging.

When facing a divorce, parents should be extremely careful of what they expose their children to and the position they may inadvertently place their children in. This caution should be taken not only for the emotional well-being of innocent kids, but also for the parents themselves who will more than likely be facing child custody issues over the course of their divorce.

Parents going through or considering a divorce and a possible child custody dispute should take care not to bash the other spouse. Despite what went on in the marriage, the children should not be exposed to the gory details or be made to feel they are to blame for the break up. Also, parents should avoid manipulation of any sort to entice the children to stay with them during the holidays or come on a particular vacation. Lastly, parents should not ask children to be involved in the divorce proceedings and alienate the other spouse.  Attempting to influence your children against your spouse can backfire in a child custody dispute and give a court reasons to favor the other parent, who is not involving the children negatively.  

Children, no matter their age, need only know that they did not cause the divorce and that both parents love them.  

Family law will vary state to state, but when it comes to child custody, the courts are unanimous. Custody issues will be determined by the "best interests" of the child standard. This standard has the goal of deciding custody conflicts in a way that fosters the children with emotional and mental support, happiness and feelings of security. Courts will take into consideration a number of factors when deciding under this standard. These considerations include the stability of the environment, emotional state of the parents including drug or alcohol abuse and interactions with extended family and support.

Child custody issues can be the most challenging part of a divorce. Understanding all the factors that will go into determining an individual's child custody rights is extremely important and can affect the rest of your life.

Source: The Huffington Post, "10 Tried-and True Ways to Emotionally Damage Your Kids Through a Divorce", January 22, 2013

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