“We stayed together for the kids.” Every family law attorney has probably heard this before. The client is saying this as they explain how they now find themselves in the midst of a divorce…maybe after years (or decades) of an unhappy marriage. But is staying together for the kids necessarily a good one?
It depends on the situation, of course. Whatever the answer is in any individual case, it’s important to consider a few things.
First, while divorce (or other parental breakups) can be a traumatic experience for children, there is also research to suggest that most children adjust well within two years following the divorce. On the other hand, children often experience more problems when parents remain in high-conflict marriages instead of splitting up. I.e., parents in high-conflict marriages should consider what damage is being done to the children by remaining in the marriage.
Second, there are many ways parents can greatly minimize any negative impact on the children arising from a divorce or relationship change.
One of the legal tools at your disposal, in Minnesota, is a Parenting Plan. Minnesota law allows couples to craft a plan for themselves that focuses on all of the important aspects of parenting for their children and themselves. It shifts the focus to parenting rather than labels (i.e., joint versus sole physical custody and legal custody). Parenting Plans are not a silver bullet solution to every situation. But they do allow parents to be more collaborative, creative, and have more control over their parenting, by design, than would be provided in a judicial order following trial, for example. Future blog articles will discuss parenting plans further.
Beyond the law, there is also a community of skilled professionals who can assist parents and children with the emotions (and practical aspects) of divorce and relationship change. These professionals help families manage the grief often involved with the changes they are experiencing. And they regularly assist with conflict resolution, co-parent communication, and overall transitioning children to living in two separate households. These professionals include psychologists, therapists, parenting coaches, parenting consultants, and more. Future blog posts will cover more about these and other important roles.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not encouraging divorce, per se. Most relationship breakups are really hard—especially those with children involved. What I am saying is that if you decide to move forward with divorce, you’re not alone. And there is a community of professionals who can help you through it, legally and otherwise.
If you have further questions about the process of divorce and other family-law proceedings in Minnesota, please contact Streit Law LLC today for a free consultation or to retain Angela. Visit www.streitlaw.net or call 651-237-3815.
 Kelly, J. B. (2005). “Developing beneficial parenting models for children following divorce.” Journal of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, 19: 237-254.