Involving Children in Your Divorce – When and How to Do It Right
Uncontested Divorce Mediation
Posted October 22, 2020
Most people would say that children should be kept out of the divorce proceedings and, most of the time, they’d be right. Denver divorce mediation is a personal experience between a separating married couple, and children usually benefit psychologically when they are clear of any negative feelings or interactions. But sometimes a divorce isn’t that clear-cut. There are many situations where children must share their opinions for the fairest settlement to be made. There are others where children strongly want to say their piece or have their preferences respected in the terms of the divorce.
In situations where children get involved with a divorce, parents must think carefully about how to minimize any negative experience. In some cases, the kids get involved to share their preferences, sometimes they are very vocal about being heard when they know Denver divorce mediation is coming. Children and teenagers with strong opinions deserve to be heard when parents are planning to rebuild their homelives, and it’s important that they have a safe venue to speak. In many other situations, children may need to share their experiences with each parent to clarify issues of custody or even parental truthfulness. Likewise, you want your children to feel safe even when they need to speak on legal matters regarding the divorce.
So how do you make sure children involved in Denver divorce mediation are protected and the negativity minimized? We’re about to examine each strategy that compassionate divorcing parents can use.
Continue to Keep Children Separate from Disagreements
Everyone knows that divorces are tough and usually involve a lot of disagreement between separating spouses. Most parents know to keep these disagreements out of sight and hearing of the children – as much as is possible in the home environment. Even if your kids are involved in divorce proceedings, keep this rule in place. Don’t argue in front of the children or ask them to take sides – follow your standard handbook for good parenting during Denver divorce mediation.
Stick to the Fact
If children are involved in a dispute, even a serious custody matter on which you have strong opinions, keep emotion out of it. Don’t ask them to make opinions or value judgments that might favor one parent over the other. Instead, stick to the facts.
If a child must answer questions, only ask what they saw, heard, or experienced. They can embellish with emotion or opinion if they want to, but avoid pushing children to answer in a specific way or with emotional context. Ask where they went, what they noticed, and what they understood to be going on. Keep the questions and your tone of voice neutral without any apparent agenda. Children are sensitive to what adults around them want, so the most honest and clarifying answers come when the kids don’t feel a strong motivation for their answers to be one way or the other.
For this reason, it’s often best if a neutral third party like a divorce mediator or counselor asks the questions so the child doesn’t have to worry about how their answers will be responded to by each parent.
Find Things to Agree On
The more agreeable you can be during a divorce involving children, the better. Negativity spreads beyond the arguments you have over divorce terms. You carry that negative feeling with you after the moment. It lingers in the mediation room and it can go home with you to the kids. Conflict is not just costly in terms of legal advice over the negotiation table, it’s also toxic to the welfare of your children. Even during a divorce that is kept completely separate from the kids, conflict is a bad idea.
When your children need to be involved in the divorce proceedings, avoiding conflict is even more important. The best way to avoid the angry kind of disagreements is to work hard on finding common ground. Start with what you and your ex can agree on – the basics. First list all the things that you automatically agree on. If you already know what you’re doing with the house, if you’re keeping the retirement accounts separate, or whether you plan to keep the kids in the same school, start there.
From there, try to identify everything you can agree on, or generally feel the same way about and can hammer out the details.
Stay Out of the Courtroom
Courtroom divorces are conducted by a judge. They are formal, adversarial, and tend to be pretty intimidating. You also have much less control over the environment or how the conversation progresses. It usually requires two lawyers who are each gunning for the best interest of only one parent, and no one in this situation is officially representing the children.
Fortunately, you don’t have to get divorced in a courtroom. Collaborative divorce, often led by a Denver divorce mediator in a quiet meeting room (or Zoom call) keeps the entire process both private and friendly. If your children need to speak during the divorce, make sure it’s a calming and cooperative environment where you can make sure your kids are comfortable. You can agree on the questions to be asked and the way the situation will go no matter what your kids have to say – even if they say very unexpected or funny things.
Prepare Your Children for the Experience
Before your children come into the mediation to share what needs to be talked about, tell them what to expect. Talk about the kind of questions to be asked and the gentlest way to discuss any serious issues that are to be decided. For younger children, it’s often better to deal only with questions and answers, don’t worry them with decisions based on this. For older children and teens, they may care strongly about the result of their involvement, or have decisions they want made a specific way.
Find the Right Mediator to Work With
The final important step is to find the right person to conduct your Denver divorce mediation. A mediator is there to work with the whole family and find the best solution for everyone. They will both help parents find compromises in divorce terms and help children through any part that they must be involved in. Older kids and teenagers who want to be involved can also work with a mediator to have their voices heard and even guide the family to the most kid-friendly solutions.
Contact a Denver Divorce Mediator Today
If you are looking for a divorce process where your kids can feel heard and safely share their experiences, try Denver divorce mediation. Filing a collaborative divorce with the help of Split Simple ensures that conflict and strife are kept to a minimum. In times when children need to be involved, they can talk in a safe environment and older kids can even be a part of the process where it relates to their lives and futures.
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Denver, CO 80202
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