Divorce often results in a very difficult time for both parents and children. Parents are coping with high emotions, and children are often left with many questions, including where they will live, what will happen to their friends and what does the divorce means for them. Because children can be greatly affected by the divorce process, parents are encouraged to take great care and work side-by-side with the court system to make custody arrangements that are in the child’s best interests.
How to help children through a divorce
Children can often get caught up in the process of divorce, and it is important for both parents to talk to their children about what is going on. Being honest with children can go a long way. When faced with divorce, a couple’s children may believe that both parents will no longer be there for them, and honesty can help the children regain trust in their parents.
When parents are caring and non-hostile in telling their children the news that they are getting a divorce, the children are often able to have better expectations for the future. They can understand that the family is still able to work together despite the divorce, and that each parent loves them and believes this decision will be in the children’s best interest as well.
It is also important that parents refrain from bashing their exes in front of their children. This gives the children the impression that the family is not able to work together, and they may feel as if they are being tugged between the two parents. Children need to know that they still have the support of both parents, no matter what happens and no matter who is awarded custody.
One thing that often causes both parents and children anxiety during a divorce is the issue of child custody and visitation. Parents in Missouri can have legal custody, physical custody, or both. Legal custody relates to the decisions that affect the child on a day-to-day basis, including decisions about medical care, school choices and religion. Physical custody determines where the child will reside and how much time the child will spend with the parent not in the home. Custody can be awarded to one or both parents in each of these categories.
When making decisions about child custody, the family court is supposed to act in the best interests of the child. The court can look at many factors when making its determination. These factors can include:
- The parent’s wishes about child custody and any parenting plan submitted by the parents.
- The child’s need for frequent interaction with both parents and the parents’ willingness to provide this.
- The child’s relationships with each parent, siblings and any other significant people in the child’s life.
- The child’s adjustment to his or her home, school and community.
- The likelihood that each parent will support contact between the child and the other parent.
- The physical and mental conditions of everyone involved, including whether there is a history of domestic violence.
- The desire of either parent to relocate the child.
- The wishes of the child regarding custody if he or she is of suitable age.
Understanding how a court will determine child custody can be difficult. Speaking with an experienced family law attorney is the best way to discover one’s options and to determine the best course of action. Family law attorneys understand the importance of your children and will work with you to obtain the best possible custody arrangement.