Divorce is a family issue that needs a family response. It is not something that can be fully managed by a divorce attorney and instead requires that couples do the difficult work of not only participating in their own divorce, but also managing the ways it might affect their children.
How divorce can potentially affect children is dependent on a few different factors.
The first factor is the age of the children. Younger children may be more likely to blame themselves or wonder if their behavior is what causes their parents to stop loving each other. Younger kids have less of a sense of the nuance of divorce or the many reasons that could lead to it. Younger children may also be affected because they will have to deal with the new norm for longer. Young children may be involved in a custody battle with a child custody lawyer and may have to live in two separate houses, split holidays and learn how to function as a child of parents who live separately. This is difficult on young children, especially if they are unfamiliar with the idea of divorce, do not have friends with divorced parents and/or are not used to living in two households.
For teenagers and other older children, they are more likely to have a sense of what divorce is. They likely have friends with divorced parents and have either seen it first hand or talked about it. This may be beneficial in some ways because they will require less explanation, but for some children it may be harder because they will have a vocal opinion on the issue.
The other factor is how amicable or volatile the divorce is. An amicable divorce is obviously the best option because it means the parents can still communicate and see one another. This will ensure the kids don’t see a lot of awkwardness, that they are able to go to the same school and that they don’t blame themselves. In some cases, children of amicable divorces are still able to have joint holidays with both parents.
On the other hand, volatile splits are harmful to both young and older children. For young children, they will put blame on themselves when hearing their parents fight. After the divorce, they may hear one of both parents saying horrible things about the other, which can taint a young child’s impression of their parents. In addition, it may mean that custody becomes an issue and that a family attorney is needed in order to help the family figure out how to proceed.
For older children, volatile divorces may prompt them to “pick a side” particularly if one parent wronged the other. This is common in the case of infidelity, where a child might shun the parent who cheated. This can greatly affect the long term relationship between a child and one of their parents.
No matter the age or situation, divorce can negatively affect children or teenagers who are caught in the midst of their parents separation. Knowing this ahead of time is helpful because it will lead to more communication and better family management.