Most people understand that divorce can have a profound, typically negative, impact on minor children from the marriage. That knowledge could keep parents who would be happier if divorced in a non-functional marriage out of a sense of obligation. Thankfully, there are other ways to reduce the impact of a divorce on children without staying unhappily married.
For couples who don’t yet agree on the terms of asset division or custody, mediation could be an ideal alternative to divorce court. Mediation involves both spouses working with their own individual attorneys, as well as a neutral third party to resolve issues surrounding the terms of their divorce. Because there is no court process and compromise features prominently in the process, mediation often reduces divorce stress on the children involved.
Mediation allows you to avoid the worst parts of a divorce
For minor children, divorce court can be traumatizing. Getting called up to testify about which parent they’d prefer to live with or confirm stories of poor behavior can damage the fragile parent-child relationship. Children may worry that one or both parents may reject them over decisions or testimony in court. They may also worry that they are the root cause of all the anger that comes out in a divorce.
Hearing their parents complain about one another can cause a lot of issues for young children. They may worry that their parents also talk negatively about them when they are not present. They may also worry that they embody the negative traits in either parent. Witnessing fighting or hearing terrible things about their parents can harm the self-esteem and parental relationships of children. Divorce is much easier for children when they don’t have to repeatedly witness acrimony between parents.
Mediation shows children that compromise is possible
Much of what young children learn about the world comes from the way their parents behave. Seeing their parents fighting bitterly over every step of the divorce process could leave children with the idea that an adversarial approach to conflict is the only way. That can impact their approach to conflict resolution for years to come.
Mediation, on the other hand, shows your children that even people who no longer agree with one another can work together and compromise. Children will see that even the most painful problems can be resolved without fighting.
Mediation helps establish new terms for future happiness
Instead of focusing on who did what and blame for the failure of the marriage, mediation helps both parents focus on the future instead of the past. While divorce pits you against one another and can lead to years of resentment, mediation can help you resolve issues or at least find a way to move beyond them for the sake of the children.
Additionally, working together to set the terms of asset division and child custody could help divorcing spouses lay a foundation for a healthy co-parenting relationship in the future.