After last week’s blog post about preparing yourself for divorce (called dissolution of marriage in Washington State) we had more to say on how to prepare your relationship with your children for your divorce and subsequent two-house family. (Please note, this article is also relevant for non-married couples with children when the parents are planning to separate.) The end of a marriage can be very difficult for children. In this article we write only about the issues related to your legal case (though oftentimes what is in the best interest of your legal case is also in the best interest of your child’s emotional health). We recommend that if you have any questions about how to guide your child emotionally, you speak to a person trained to assist with children’s emotional well-being (for example, a counselor or psychologist).
Here are a few things you can do to prepare your relationship with your child for the dissolution process:
- Consider your involvement. If your divorce will not be happening immediately, it is a good to consider your involvement in your child’s life. Don’t just play with your child, take care of their needs. If your child is in diapers make sure you know how to change them. If your child is a picky eater, make sure you know how to make a meal they will eat. If you are hoping to have a lot of time with your child after divorce this is a good time to show the other parent, your child, yourself, and eventually the court that you can take care of your child on your own.
- Work with the other parent. If you have had a contentious relationship with the child’s other parent it may seem difficult to get along with them. You may be thinking that the difficulties end when the marriage does. The reality is, when you have a child together you will have to work together on many issues at least until the child is eighteen, but usually longer (perhaps not legally, but sharing weddings, grandkids, etc.). The sooner you can work on having a amicable parenting relationship the better.
- Consider addressing any personal or parenting issues or deficiencies you have. If you have issues that you know your spouse will bring up as a reason you should have less time with your child, see if you can address them prior to the dissolution or during the dissolution process. For example, if you have trouble getting your child to school on time during the marriage, turn that around and have at least a few months of perfect attendance behind you when the court (or mediator/arbitrator) has to make a decision about your ability to have the child on school nights.
- Take care of yourself. During the stress of preparing for divorce many people forget to take good care of themselves. This sometimes means not sleeping enough, not eating a healthy diet, or consuming too much alcohol. It is important that you be in good physical and mental health as you enter the dissolution process. Your kids need you ready to help them with the transition, and you will need to prepared for what could be a difficult legal case.
If you have children and are considering ending your marriage (or ending your non-marriage relationship with your child’s other parent), it may be in your best interest to consult with a Seattle family law attorney about your situation and the best way to prepare yourself and your kids for the dissolution of your marriage. We would be honored if you choose us to assist you with this delicate and important issue.