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Divorce With Children During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Choosing Divorce During COVID-19 May Be Right for Your Family

Thinking about divorce becomes much more difficult when children are in the picture. Even in the best of circumstances, many couples try to “stick it out” for the sake of their children, putting aside their own happiness in the belief that maintaining a two-parent household will be somehow better for their children. COVID-19 has put an understandable strain on marriages, but sticking it out for the kids can have more negative impacts than you might imagine.

An Artificial Pressure

It should be noted that the pressure to stay together during the COVID-19 pandemic is largely artificial. This isn’t the same kind of pressure that couples feel during the normal course of a relationship but rather a heightened sense of urgency to make the “right” choice that is influenced by an outside factor. Since the world has become such an uncertain and often times, scary place, many feel an artificial pressure to stay together that otherwise would not exist.

As any good family law attorney can tell you, there are few outside pressures that can make staying in a relationship worthwhile. When the inevitable point of dissolution becomes apparent, many people do seek an outside factor to give them a reason not to make the change. It’s easy enough to use one’s children as such an excuse not to dissolve the marriage, but the truth is that COVID-19 has become an even more attractive scapegoat because the pandemic can make a refusal to change one’s life seem much more logical.

In reality, it’s still very possible to talk to a family lawyer even though the pandemic rages on. While the outside pressure might seem like you have to stick it out for the sake of your children, try to be aware that the pandemic isn’t doing much to stop you from consulting with a divorce attorney. Once you realize that COVID-19 can be as much of an excuse as it is a legitimate factor, you can begin to see why your treatment of it as a reason to “pause” the end of your marriage can be the symptom of a bigger problem.

Setting a Bad Example

“Sticking it out” has historically been spoken of as a sign of strength and a symbol of an individual’s choice to place his or her desires behind those of his or her children. The logic has been that not only is a two-parent household typically superior to any other household but that at a later point, one’s children will be moved by the sacrifice that their parents made for them. While certainly a comforting notion that your children will come to agree with your decision, it’s more likely that staying in an unhealthy relationship will set a bad and unhealthy example for your kids.

The drive to see a divorce lawyer comes from the state of the relationship, not necessarily any selfishness on the part of either party. When your children see that you are willing to stay with your partner even though you are unhappy, your children don’t absorb the lesson that you are willing to sacrifice your happiness for them; instead, your children will see you modeling a behavior and begin to believe that their job is to sacrifice their own happiness to prioritize that of others.

While there are certainly lessons to be taught about honoring commitments and perseverance, there are also incredibly important lessons that your children must learn about healthy relationships and their own self-worth. If you want your child to grow up to have the courage to find a relationship in which he or she feels valued, you should consider disabusing yourself of the idea that staying put is the only way to protect your child.

Inflicting Damage

Even if you aren’t worried about the example that you are setting by staying with your partner, you need to stop and think about the harm that’s being done to your child by staying in an unhappy relationship. Though you may work your hardest to be a great parent, even very young children are aware of what it’s like to be around unhappy parents. Once your children start to understand that you are only staying in a marriage because of them, they’ll start to develop complicated feelings as to their role in your household.

Even if your child has a healthy relationship with your spouse, your child is going to internalize the uncomfortable feeling in your household. He or she may start to lash out against one of you because he or she feels less like a person than a living anchor for your sinking relationship. In fact, many children who find themselves in the middle of unhappy marriages will start to believe that somehow the health of the relationship is related to them. Life is hard enough, especially during COVID-19; don’t add the extra emotional labor on your child.

If you happen to be in a relationship where any form of abuse is happening, you’ll have even more of a reason to speak to a divorce attorney. Your child may not only be in danger of developing issues because of his or her feelings but might also find himself or herself a victim of abuse. It’s easy to feel like you have no options when most of the world seems to be shut down, but sometimes, the best thing you can do for your child is to break away and get a fresh start.

Causing Further Problems

The final reason to consider divorce during COVID-19 is harm mitigation. Sticking around in a relationship that is no longer healthy may seem like a way to protect your children, but what you are doing is kicking problems further down the road. You are putting yourself in a holding pattern hoping not that your relationship will improve but rather hoping that the world around you will change in a way that will allow you to make changes in the future.

All of the problems that have led to your desire for a pandemic divorce are likely going to be around once the world returns to a sense of normalcy. In fact, you may gain a whole host of new problems because you’ve let resentment fester as you’ve been in lockdown. Not only will your children be able to see the problems that you are going through, but your children will also be faced with a divorce as soon as they gain some sense of equilibrium. In this case, waiting longer to end your marriage has a greater chance of destabilizing your children than doing so even during the pandemic.

Staying in a marriage won’t always benefit your children, and doing so, even during this pandemic can teach them a host of bad lessons. Though you may feel like you have to stay because of world events, you should remember that you still have options to explore. If you are ready to consider a divorce, make sure to contact Jeralyn Lawrence at Lawrence Law in Watchung or Red Bank, New Jersey. You can contact Lawrence Law by phone at (908) 645-1000 or by email at info@lawlawfirm.com to get the help you need from a family lawyer today.

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