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Looking at the Impact of Children on a Texas Divorce

Children are impressionable at any age. No matter if your child is 1 or 17, he or she tends to soak up what is going on around them like a sponge. What your child takes in is impacted not only based on what you talk to them about but the lessons you teach them without your even knowing that you are teaching them. Children catch things that you do when formal lessons are not being undertaken. More is caught than taught, you could say. Be careful as a parent of how you present yourself, your home, and your emotions to protect your child and form them in a way that you think is desirable for growth and development. 

That’s the trouble with kids, in a way. You never know when your child is paying enough attention to pick up on things that you wish they wouldn’t. We would all like our children to be paying attention when we do something good or admirable. That way the kids can see us looking like superheroes or at least like super parents. However, what can you do to help your child learn valuable lessons when it comes to her daily life during a divorce? Nobody would choose to go through a divorce unless it became necessary. However, you can still approach the case with an eye toward teaching and positive reinforcement when it comes to your children. This is true even though you would hope that your children never have to go through a divorce themselves. 

Your kids and their impact from a divorce is anyone’s guess. Parents in a divorce typically have one of two viewpoints when it comes to their children and divorce. Either a parent will think that their kids are extremely resilient and that the divorce will not faze them, or the parent will think that the divorce is going to knock their children down where they will never be able to recover from the case. The reality of the situation is that most kids will fall somewhere in the middle as far as resiliency is concerned. Your children will almost certainly be impacted in some way by the divorce, but they do not need to have their entire reality formed by what happens during this legal case. 

You and your spouse can work with your children to manage the case and look at the divorce from the perspective of people who are committed to raising a child together who is well-adjusted, strong mentally, and able to handle adversity. These are admirable goals for any child. Certainly, you would like to teach your children these important lessons and skills without having to do so in the middle of a divorce. However, that is not the situation that you are facing. You can go through your divorce, manage your case and then go through the different steps and lessons with your children as a bonus. 

In today’s blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, we are going to talk about what sort of impact your divorce could have on your children. If you have any questions about this subject, the material contained in today’s blog post, or anything else related to the world of Texas family law please does not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free-of-charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law as well as how your family may be impacted by the filing of a divorce. 

Children and divorce

It is important to slow down and think about the divorce from the perspective of your children. They are not going to experience your divorce in the same way as you. First, your child may not be old enough to even understand what a divorce is- not to mention how to handle the divorce. When it comes to facing the circumstances of a divorce you need to be able to learn how to think about the case and how your child is likely to react to it. There is no guarantee that your child is going to emotionally grasp the issues any better than he or she is going to understand what a divorce is. All your child may come to realize is that their mom or dad is no longer living with them. That is an abrupt and difficult situation for your child to face. 

The first thing I would do were I about to embark upon a divorce is to sit and think about whether the case is necessary. If you can avoid divorce, then that is the ideal situation. Avoiding a divorce probably means having an honest discussion with your spouse about the problems in your marriage as well as what you can do to improve the quality of your relationship. There is no telling just how deep or immersed your relationship the problems that are pushing you toward divorce. It could be that just a few productive conversations could lead you and your spouse toward a resolution to your marital issues. On the other hand, you may have some major issues that are going to take time, effort, and perhaps some counseling to sort through. 

However, you can’t know whether reconciliation with your spouse is possible until you ask him or her. It may have been several weeks or longer since you and your spouse had a productive discussion about your marriage. In some cases, you all may have never had that discussion before. The best time to have had this type of conversation was yesterday. The second-best time is right now. You can take this opportunity to talk about the marriage, your family, your goals, your concerns, and anything else on your mind. Do this in private, without your child, and with the television off. Put your cell phones in a kitchen drawer and leave them there for the duration of the conversation so that you all are not distracted. 

If your spouse will not even have this conversation with you then you have your answer right, there. If you are seriously considering a divorce, then you are at the stage where you and your spouse need to figure out your problems together as a team. Even if the problems are one-sided. Both of you need to be pulling in the same direction on the rope. One of you trying to do it by yourself is not going to cut it. See if he or she will have a conversation with you. If not, then you will need to move on to figuring out the next possible step for you to take in your case. 

If your spouse is willing to talk with you about the problems in your marriage, then you have the potential for reconciliation. You can determine if pursuing a resolution via conversation, therapy or counseling may be most beneficial. However, if you go about trying to reconcile with your spouse it is smart to keep your children in mind. When the times get tough, and you feel like you want to give up on these issues you can use your children as motivating factors to keep you engaged and pushing for reunification with your spouse. The kids will thank you later for what you have done. 

However, even if your attempts at reconciliation are not successful that does not mean that the process that you just went through was pointless or without merit. You started to think about your case not only from your perspective as an adult but from the vantage point of your children. No matter their age each child has a unique need or role to play in your family. You can explore that role by talking with them about your family, their place within it, and what to expect moving forward with a divorce. You can share with them truthful information, updates, and perspectives. What you should avoid doing is sugarcoating things or even getting their hopes up at a reunification when there is no chance for that. Being honest at the moment can be hard but it is better than getting your child’s hopes up only to dash them later. 

Joint effort and a united front

If you and your spouse are not able to reconcile your marriage, then you will need to talk with your children about the divorce. There are many sub-points to make about this topic and I am going to do my best to talk about what I think are the most important ones. Please note that all families are unique and what your family needs as far as help, guidance and everything in between may not be covered in today’s blog post. As with anything else, we ask that you contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan if you have any specific questions about your circumstances. A blog is a great place to gain a general understanding of an issue. A free-of-charge consultation is a great place to gain a specific understanding of the issues that you are facing. 

When it comes to having a conversation with your children about an impending divorce you need to get a feel for what your children need and what their maturity level is. Certainly, if you have an infant in the home that is not a discussion that you are probably going to have. He or she is too young to understand much of anything that you talk with them or about. Certainly, the concept of a divorce is going to fly way over their little head. As a result, you will just have to take the pains of transitioning into two households as they come. Little ones love routines- I say this as a dad who has raised four kids with my wife. If you break the routine of a small child, then he or she will notice and voice their displeasure. You and your spouse can coordinate how you are going to normalize living in two different households with your infant or if that is even appropriate given the needs of your little one. 

For a child older than a toddler I would think that it’s a good idea to have a conversation with them about the divorce. You can approach the subject from their level, based on their needs and ability to take in that information. You do not have to sit them down for an hour and walk them through the minutiae of the divorce. That is probably a very bad idea. Rather, you should take that opportunity to help your child understand what a divorce is, what it means to them, and what it means to their family. You can answer questions. You can help the child to see how you all are still going to be a family. It’s just that your family is going to look different than it did before. 

If possible, you and your spouse should try to present a united front to your children when it comes to divorce. Locking arms with the person that you are divorcing may not seem like much fun, but I think that it is essential when you consider a divorce can be a make-or-break moment for your children. If you don’t believe me, do a little research on when a disgruntled adult started to experience problems. The breakup of their parents is a common place where troubled kids or even not-so-troubled kids start to have problems. This does not mean that you need to stay married for the sake of your children. However, it does mean that you should consider presenting a united front and sharing the news with your children as a team. Even if they can intellectually understand what divorce is and what it means, being able to see the two of you together can be a powerful message that is sent to the kids about how your family will operate after the divorce begins. 

Managing the challenges to children together with your spouse

Finally, the divorce case itself will present challenges to your children, to you, and your spouse. For starters, you and your spouse may need to move out of the family home. This may happen for several reasons, and it may be for the best since the two of you will not be living together after the divorce anyways. When your child sees one parent moving out of their home that can be the start of the challenges presented by an adult. You both can slow down what you are doing and talk to your children about the divorce and what to expect moving forward. Reaffirm your love for the child and help him or her to see that the family is not going away- it’s just living situations that are going to be different. 

Living in two separate households means sharing custody and possession of the kids. Fortunately, this is a situation that you and your spouse will be able to exert a fair amount of control over. There are countless and endless varieties of possession schedules that you two can choose to implement in your homes during and after the divorce. The main limitations presented when it comes to a possession schedule are issues related to where you both live during and after the divorce as well as your work schedules. If you live close by and both works remotely then you may be able to create a workable and flexible schedule that allows your children to see both you and your spouse on an even basis. 

This can help prepare your children for life after the divorce. We see that spouses who work well together and can put aside their differences are best able to help their children deal with the questions and uncertainty that come with a divorce. The most visible and tangible way that your children’s lives will change because of the divorce is the two of you sharing custody of your children. Living in two different households and going back and forth can take some getting used to. As I mentioned a moment ago, this can be alleviated to a degree by choosing to live close to one another. The less time you in the car, the more quality time you can spend with your children. If you talk with your spouse about these issues odds are good that the two of you can set aside your differences and work together at least when it comes to doing what is best for your children. 

Questions about the material contained in today’s blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan

If you have any questions about the material contained in today’s blog post, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free-of-charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law as well as how your family’s circumstances may look like after a divorce or child custody case has been filed. 

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