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What Will My Divorce Mean for My Kids and Their Wellbeing?
Will divorce mediation help?
I think that due to the fact that I was a therapist as well as an attorney, clients often ask me the same question or make the same comment at their first session:
"Won't this divorce harm my children psychologically for a very long time?"
" I feel terrible for the children because we are splitting up and they will have the toxic fallout from this divorce".
What they don't understand yet, because they are just beginning this constructive voyage is that through divorce mediation, there is usually little "fallout" and even in the rare case that there are some repercussions, they are usually not "toxic". My clients come here with open minds and with their children in their hearts. When the parties come together in the best interests of the children to work out an agreement, the agreements are ALWAYS better and the children ALWAYS fare better.
I instruct the clients to explain to the children, always using the terms, "Mommy and I" or "Dad and I" and to say that they are excited about making an agreement that will always work in their children's best interest and that all will be well - that Mommy and Daddy's marriage is not working well between them, so they will not be married to each other anymore, but that they will always be family around the children. THAT is not toxic.
What IS toxic is the subtle and slow poison that non-mediating clients often inject into the children. For example, when one parent calls to speak to the children while they have parenting time with the other parent, and the parent that answers the phone, calls the children to the phone with a nasty-sounding, "Your MOTHER is on the phone..uh, here..talk to her." That one statement, so short, so simple...is all it takes to damage the heart and mind of a child.
When we talk to our children, sometimes, we treat them as we would another family member or a friend - perhaps not trying to spread toxicity, but to simply educate that child as to the weaknesses or character flaws of the other parent. Not only is it harmful and inappropriate, but it doesn't work.
That child does not see the "other" parent as the enemy or a sad, pathetic excuse for a spouse, but rather the child sees him/herself as a "loser" and an extension of both parents. Instead of seeing the "truth" or the "light" and understanding the shortcomings of the other parent, the child turns the toxicity inward and the child starts to think of him/herself as an awful person.
My clients in mediation do not want that. Here, the children come first. My clients leave a far better legacy to their children and so should you. It is for YOU to decide HOW your divorce will be handled and it is the HOW that is everything!!
The filing spouse must file and serve a verified complaint stating grounds for the divorce. In addition to the verified complaint there are other documents that must be filed including Affidavits and a Marital Settlement Agreement setting out division of property, spousal and child support.
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"A Plain English Guide to Protecting Your Children"
Author: Mary L. Boland, Attorney at Law
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