Psychological researchers stress the negative effects on children of contentious divorce. It’s no wonder that when parents engage in protracted litigation, the children can’t help but be emotionally disturbed by their parents’ fight.
Children of traditional divorce experience these unhappy truths:
1. Parents forget their number one job–being a parent. They become preoccupied with their quest for winning the litigation. Energy and time they would ordinarily spend as loving, responsible, available parents is devoted to the traditional divorce process. Their commitment goes into the fight, not into parenting.
2. The litigation process requires parents to malign each other. To “win” in traditional divorce, each parent must disparage the other’s parenting skills and inflate his/her own strengths as a parent. The children either sense this “I am better than your other parent” attitude or hear it directly. Divided and conflicted loyalties can cause permanent anxiety and lack of trust.
3. A contentious divorce can make kids feel guilty. In litigation, children are expected to talk to: social workers conducting social study evaluations; psychologists performing evaluations with interviews, observations and tests; and judges who may interview them at the courthouse. Children blame themselves for outcomes, thinking “if only” they had said something different, maybe mom and dad would have stayed together or would be happier with the result.
4. Long-term emotional issues are all but inevitable. Watching one’s parents behave badly can lead to disrespect and acting out. The children become despondent and anxious. Depression and other psychological issues are not uncommon, both during the divorce and for years afterwards.
The members of Collaborative Divorce Dallas are dedicated to offering the collaborative divorce process, so that parents can explore all their options, including possible reconciliation if that is a desire of either of the parents.
The Collaborative process maximizes the chance that the parents will be able to effectively function as parents during the divorce. We support both parents as they attend to their children’s needs and help them plan for a future where they can co-parent in the way they think best for their children, not the way some arbitrary legislative standards might impose upon them.
In the long run, we are confident that the children whose parents engage in the collaborative divorce process will honor their parents for the healthy way they model behavior as they approach dissolution of their marriage so that it does not unnecessarily wound their children.