How Will Divorce Affect My Kids?

sad child listening to parents fight

Most people who are going through a divorce recognize that this is a big decision – not only for themselves but one that will affect the entire family.  While divorcing spouses may understand that the process will have an impact on their children, they may not be familiar with exactly how a divorce will affect the children’s lives.  Below are some possible ways children’s lives may be impacted by a divorce, as well as some tips for how you can best manage the transition for your own children. 

Everyday Life

Most families are aware that a divorce will have a significant impact on their day-to-day lives and the lives of their children, and this is equally true for both opposite-sex and same-sex couples.  For example, it’s common for parties to have to sell the marital residence following a divorce in order to decrease their budgets.  Therefore, the children will likely need to adjust to not only one new residence, but two. To mitigate the impact of such a major change, many parents going through a divorce try to remain in the same school district that the children previously attended, at least for a limited period of time.  In that regard, while much is changing at home, at least the school atmosphere – where the children spend such a significant amount of time – will remain constant.   

There will be other obvious changes, as well, such as adjusting to new parenting time schedules.  Some parents seek to utilize a nesting arrangement for parenting time, where the children always remain in the residence and the parents take turns living in the home for their set period of time with the children.  While this may work in some families, it can ultimately leave the parents feeling as though they do not have an established home.  

When parents decide what sort of parenting time arrangement and holiday schedules they believe is best, the most important thing to keep in mind is the best interests of the children.  Often, this may mean that the parents must be reminded that their differences are between themselves only and that the children should be shielded from that to the best of the parents’ abilities.  Divorce will impact the entire family’s lives, but doing whatever you can to lessen the impact on your children will go far in their handling of the divorce. 

Decision Making

It is nearly universal that parents in New Jersey share joint legal custody of their children following a divorce.  This means that the parents will continue to work with one another in order to make decisions about the child’s medical care, religious upbringing, and education.  The best-case scenario for the children would be that his/her parents are able to put aside their differences in order to attend important events together. This can be as simple as a routine doctor’s appointment or a parent/teacher conference.  This way, the parents can be certain that they are getting the same information at the same time about their child and reduce later conflict by having separate conversations. However, if this is not possible, many schools and doctors are accommodating to divorced parents and will arrange for duplicate copies of records and/or notices to be provided to both parents so that everyone is involved.

Leave the Kids Out of It

One of the most difficult things to do during a divorce is to go through the process while shielding the children from the majority of the conflict and discomfort of a divorce.  While you may not have a good relationship with your former spouse any longer, that person still remains your child’s parent and you should be trying to encourage that relationship, not further damage it because of your own feelings.  

Family law attorneys always encourage their clients to try to shield the children from the ongoing divorce proceedings by not discussing the issues with the children.  It’s also best to establish a means of communication with your spouse that does not include sending messages back and forth through the kids. You also do not want to put the children in an awkward position of scheduling them for something, such as a doctor’s appointment, during the other parent’s time.  This may lead to hurt feelings and a conversation between the child and the other parent that they otherwise should not be having. Most importantly, always keep the child’s best interest at the forefront of your mind, and do not allow yourself to become so enveloped in what is happening to you that you miss what is happening to them.

If you have questions about divorce and how it may impact your children, schedule a consultation with the attorneys of DeTorres & DeGeorge today.

Children & Divorce Guide
About DeTorres and DeGeorge Family Law

DeTorres and DeGeorge Family Law is a New Jersey based family law firm that has been helping New Jersey residents achieve the best possible results in their divorce for nearly 30 years. The DeTorres and DeGeorge Family Law team is always ready to fight for their clients’ rights – determined to help New Jersey families overcome legal challenges from start to finish. Our legal team, with over 65 years of combined experience, provides expert guidance on all family law and divorce-related matters, including custody and parenting time, alimony and child support, equitable distribution of assets, premarital agreements, post-divorce issues, executive compensation distribution, divorces for business owners, and divorce mediation. The firm has been recognized for its dedication and expertise in the industry by multiple local and national organizations, including Super Lawyers, Law Firm 500, and the American Institute of Family Law Attorneys. Rosanne DeTorres, Managing Partner, is one of 150 lawyers certified as a matrimonial law attorney.