One of the biggest advantages of keeping your divorce out of court by using an alternative method of dispute resolution (ADR) like collaborative divorce or mediation is that spouses need to work together to negotiate agreements that are best for their children and their own financial well-being.
When estranged spouses are in constant battle, even though they’re no longer living together, their children can’t help but sense the tension. This leads to anxiety and insecurity about what the future will bring for them.
What’s important to you likely isn’t what your child cares about
Professionals who teach couples how to be better co-parents after divorce say that when divorcing parents are consumed with their own feelings of anger, hurt and resentment, they don’t have the time and energy required to notice how their children are feeling and to listen to their concerns. They are more likely to assume that the things they care about are also what their children are concerned about. This includes things like:
- What your ex did to break up the marriage
- What they’re doing wrong now
- If they’re seeing someone else already
- If they’re paying as much child support as they can afford
That’s not to say that parents shouldn’t care about some of these things – particularly when it comes to things like child support and introducing new partners. However, too often, parents focus on these things as a way to make their child see that they’re the better parent (and person).
Co-parenting professionals stress that kids of divorcing parents are most concerned about things like:
- Who fixes their meals
- Who comes to their games, recitals and other activities
- Who helps them with their homework and school projects
- Who takes care of them when they’re sick
- Who takes the time to listen to their problems
Ideally, both parents do all of these things. Notice, however, that none of them involve giving a child expensive gifts or taking them to luxury resorts on vacation. That’s why parents who try to outdo each other with money seldom end up “winning” – at least in the long run.
If you’re fully committed to your child’s well-being throughout and after your divorce, you’ll sometimes need to put your own feelings about your co-parent to the side. Negotiating your custody agreement, parenting plan and other divorce documents largely outside of court, but with sound legal guidance can help you do that.