Each marriage is unique. Each individual in a marriage faces his or her own challenges and emotions. Sometimes in a marriage, the relationship between spouses disintegrates to the point where they are more like friends – or in some cases, enemies – rather than husband and wife. When these circumstances arise, divorce might be the best option for some people. However, divorce is not a decision that should be taken lightly. Fortunately, many people understand the gravity of a divorce and make the decision to pursue divorce because it is the right move for them and their family. Sometimes, couples believe that they can or should stick it out in a marriage for the sake of the children, but this question often leads to another question: How long is long enough to stay?
Is There an Appropriate Age for Your Children?
The honest answer to this question is that there is no hard and fast age at which children are all of a sudden able to cope with divorce. Determining the right time for you to divorce, or the right age at which your children might best handle a divorce, depends on the individual factors unique to your family. Some children experience quicker emotional development than others and would be in a better position to handle divorce at an earlier age, but that does not mean younger children or children who may mature less quickly are at a disadvantage in dealing with divorce. Ultimately, a child’s success at coping with divorce depends on how the family approaches it as a whole, and especially how each parent handles the process.
This is one reason why a team approach to divorce can be crucial. Children thrive on stability. A family typically provides that stability and a divorce may threaten that for a child of any age. However, approaching divorce as a team allows parents to help children understand exactly how divorce might affect them and, more importantly, that divorce is not their fault. If children see their parents cooperating as much as possible and taking opportunities to avoid additional and unnecessary conflict, they are more likely to mimic that behavior. Reduction of conflict involving your children also frees up their time and energy to process aspects of the divorce in their own way.
Is There a Particularly Vulnerable Age?
Many professionals agree that children in early adolescence are extremely vulnerable to change. However, children of any age can react negatively to change, especially divorce. It is important to ascertain your child’s state of mind as often as possible if you are considering divorce and especially when determining the right time to tell him or her about it. For instance, if your child is struggling in school or with social relationships, then your child may also be struggling with internal coping mechanisms that help him or her navigate these difficult social structures. Adding divorce to the list of things to deal with might not be the best solution, especially not without the help of an experienced mental health professional.
Should You Contact a Professional?
Children struggling in school and social relationships may not be the only ones who can benefit from seeing external mental health professionals. In fact, children who seem well-adjusted and actively involved in a variety of programs might be at their limit and could end up breaking down if a divorce is added to the many things they are juggling. Even children close in age with similar personalities could react wholly differently at the news of a divorce. It is important to recognize the unique, individual needs of each of your children and to address them separately – especially when it comes to dealing with something as traumatic as a divorce.
What if Violence is Involved?
Violence in a relationship, marital or otherwise, is never acceptable. There is never a reason for it and it cannot be excused. If you are in a relationship that is prone to violence, you should contact the proper authorities immediately. The National Domestic Violence Hotline can help you find important resources if you are involved in a violent relationship. After you have found a way to remove yourself and your children from violent, unsafe conditions, it is important or you to explore options that will enable you to protect your child’s best interests. It is not in the best interest of your child to witness violence, which can and often is more than just physical violence. Emotional abuse and sexual abuse are real and constant threats between many spouses and can affect your children. Witnessing these violent and often repetitive cycles does not provide a good example for children, and escaping them is likely the best choice you can make for yourself and your child.
Legal Assistance with Florida Divorce
Unfortunately, there is no clear answer to what the right time to divorce is if you have children. Many sources say making a clean break as soon as possible is always the best bet, while others say it never is. The answer depends on the unique dynamics of your family as well as your own needs and why you are considering divorce. In some circumstances, it is clear that divorce is the only option to keep you and your children safe. However, in many other circumstances, the line is not so clear. If you are considering divorce or have questions about how a Florida divorce might affect you and your children, contact Scott J. Stadler to schedule a consultation where you can find out additional information about the Florida divorce process and what options might be best suited for you.