Going through a divorce can be one of the most difficult things for you and your children to experience. Here are some tips to help get you through to the other side.
Do not involve the children in your fight
No matter how upset or angry you are, adult arguments should not be shared with children. No matter what their faults, children do not want to be told negative things about either of their parents (or extended families). Even if your ex bad-mouths you – do not be tempted to tell your side of the story to the children. Take the high road.
You also need to be careful about what you say to others. You never know what little ears may overhear from you and others around you (or what little eyes might see on social media).
It is important to get the right advice, from the right experts, and get it as early as possible. This includes advice from a family lawyer about your rights and obligations, talking to Centrelink and the Child Support Agency, updating your will and estate plan, getting financial advice and seeking emotional support from your counsellor or psychologist.
There are also many low cost and free resources for parents including:
- Parental conflict and its effect on children Fact Sheet (located on the Family Court website, this is a downloadable resource for parents);
- What about the Children booklet (can be obtained from Relationships Australia and downloaded from their website);
- Children and Separation booklet (can be downloaded from Family Relationships Online);
- Post separation parenting courses (places such as Relationships Australia and other community organisations can provide free or low cost programs to assist parents after separation)
- Post Separation Parenting Communication websites and apps (some examples include Talking Parents, and Our Family Wizard)
Avoid Court if you can
Court should be a last resort – especially when children are involved. The best outcome will be one that both parents agree is in the best interests of the children. Arrangements that are consented to by the parents rather than imposed by the Court generally have better prospects of success and cooperation in the future for you and your children.
There are many options available to help you reach an agreement without having to step foot inside a Court. These can include direct negotiation, mediation, collaborative law, child inclusive dispute resolution, assistance from lawyers and many other dispute resolution options you can try.
If you do end up in Court, keep in mind that the Family Court statistics show that for the vast majority of matters that start in Court, rather than going all the way through the system to final hearing, most matters settle by agreement. The Court will encourage you to try and reach an agreement and if possible, that is what you should aim to do.
Get resources for your children
Even if your children seem like they are doing ok, they may still benefit them to have some extra support. What you choose will depend on your child’s age and what works for them.
Some children will benefit from one-on-one emotional support from a therapist. Whether this is just a one-off appointment, or a series of sessions is something you can explore with the counsellor or psychologist you choose and what they recommend will work for your child.
If your child is young and likes story books, some examples of books aimed at helping children going through a divorce include:
- Two Homes by Claire Masurel
- The Invisible String by Patrice Karst
- Living with Mum and Living with Dad: My two Homes by Melanie Walsh
- Saturday Is Pattyday by Lesléa Newman (Rainbow Family friendly)
There are also some free online resources for various age groups including:
- Sesame Street Divorce Toolkit (good for little ones, it includes videos, songs, tips for parents and printable resources);
- Questions & Answers about separation for children (can be downloaded from Family Relationships Online);
If you are going through a separation, you are not alone. Help and support is out there.
Do you have any tips you can share for getting through a divorce with kids? Share them in the comments.
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