Having a Child-Centered Divorce
When New Jersey parents decide to end their marriage, they may be most concerned about how to protect their children and care for them throughout the process. Divorce can come with a lot of emotional stress and pain as well as uncertainty about the future, and children may struggle when dealing with worries about their future. Parents can work with their New Jersey divorce lawyer to pursue a child-centered divorce that puts the best outcomes for the children at the heart of the entire process.
Centering Divorce Around the Children
Even when parents intend to keep the disputes around their divorce at a minimum, issues around financial matters can easily lead to stress. While this can be the case for families struggling to break even, this can be even more true for parents with substantial estates going through a high-asset divorce. Disputes over the marital home, investment accounts, retirement plans, and other major assets can ramp up into serious conflicts.
Having a child-centered divorce means keeping in mind that the children are the most valuable asset in the divorce, rather than a valuable item or a stock portfolio. It is incredibly important to keep the children at the center, but not in the middle. While concern for the future of the children may largely motivate parents’ anxiety or conflict over financial matters, keeping the children’s reactions to these events at the center of the divorce can help to moderate these contradictions. Parents can also work directly with their divorce attorneys to ensure that their approach to negotiations and litigation is framed around a child-centered process.
Of course, parents’ love for their children is often the one thing they can agree upon during a divorce even when they disagree about almost everything else. By choosing a child-centered divorce, parents can specify that this point of agreement is the most important outcome of the legal process. Your New Jersey family law attorney can advise you about how to protect your interests while pursuing a process that is focused on minimizing conflict.
Opting for Divorce Without Litigation
There are several options that parents can pursue to keep the divorce out of court. Litigating the divorce in family court will lead to a trial, public hearings, and an adversarial framework that is baked into the nature of the court system. If both parents are agreed upon the choice to avoid the courts, they can seek out family lawyers to pursue other options. Some parents may choose a collaborative divorce, in which both parents and their divorce lawyers formally commit to a fully collaborative process that will not go to court.
Alternatively, parents could opt for traditional negotiations with the help of their respective lawyers in order to reach a settlement, or they could pursue mediation for a more formal process that takes place away from the courtroom. New Jersey family courts typically welcome agreements reached outside of court that are then formalized in the divorce decree. In fact, most divorce cases are settled outside of court.
Going to court for your divorce is a necessarily adversarial process due to the nature of the legal system. Each party will present evidence to the judge and bring in expert witnesses or present testimony in order to argue for a greater share of marital assets, child custody, or alimony. All of these matters are also dealt with in negotiations, mediation, or collaborative divorce, but the goal is to achieve these outcomes while reducing the adversarial nature of the process. It can also provide a strong beginning to the co-parenting process that will follow the divorce. Coming to an agreement about key issues in the divorce can be good practice for dealing with future parenting issues without the presence of divorce lawyers and other members of your support team.
Keeping the Focus on the Future
The divorce process can be a place where both parties want to deal with their various grievances with one another that have led to the end of the marriage. While these grievances may be very legitimate, a child-centered divorce requires a focus on the future. Other supports, like therapists, adult friends and family members, can help each parent to deal with their complicated emotions about the end of the marriage. This helps to insulate the children from the most stressful aspects of the divorce while also keeping the kids at the center of key decisions during the divorce.
Parents will need to not only divide up their assets, but they will also create a plan that lays the foundation for an ongoing co-parenting relationship. The children may also have a lot of questions during this time, especially if they are unsure about where they will live, what will change in their lives, and how close they will remain with both of their parents. Everything parents do during the divorce, working with their family lawyers, can help children to feel either more or less secure. Focusing on protecting the children from the difficult parts of the split and focusing on a positive future for all parties moving forward can help lead to positive outcomes in a child-centered divorce.
Children have a right to understand their families and their lives, but they also deserve to be protected from the difficult issues that led to the divorce. They should be protected from the nitty-gritty details of potential settlements, child custody disputes, or disagreements about how to divide up family finances and assets. When parents divorce, their relationship does not come to an end; instead, it is changed into a different type of dynamic, where the kids remain at the center. The divorce process can be a period of transition into that new co-parenting situation.
Focusing On Your Relationship With Your Children
Divorce can be a very stressful and busy time. Meeting with your family law attorney, looking for a new place to live, planning to sell a home, dealing with financial paperwork, working through the legal system — all of these can take a good amount of time. Even when both parents are focused on protecting their children from the worst of the divorce, it can be far too easy for the obligations and responsibilities associated with the divorce itself to take time away from the parent-child relationship.
Throughout the divorce, both parents should make sure to take as much time as possible to support their children, together or one-on-one. Family traditions, even if one parent leads each one, are important to continue so that children do not feel like they are losing out on the things that help them feel loved and secure. Parents should continue to spend time with their children, pursue their extracurricular activities, and go on outings with the kids. Even when the divorce may move forward marginally faster by prioritizing paperwork, it is important that speed does not come at the expense of the parent-child bond.
Both parents can also take care to check in with their children. Many kids may hesitate to admit their emotional struggles. Some kids may internalize their concerns about the future, while other kids may be more prone to act out, experience poor grades, or receive penalties at school. Kids can often benefit from therapy as a positive external and neutral support to help them process their fears and feelings about the life changes that come with divorce.
Speak With a New Jersey Divorce Lawyer
Your divorce attorney can advise you about how to pursue a non-litigation, child-centered divorce. Contact the experienced New Jersey family law attorneys at Lawrence Law by calling 908-645-1000 or by completing and submitting our online form for a consultation at our Watchung or Red Bank, New Jersey, office.