Divorce can be difficult and confusing, but there’s one part that is simple: The children come first. Always.
This is not only the view that parents need to take, but also the view that the courts take. You have probably heard people say that divorce courts prioritize the children’s best interests. This simply means that they identify what will best for the children, they put them first, and they give the children a solution that is as close to ideal as possible. What the parents want comes second.
But how does this play out in reality? Here are a few things to consider:
- It’s typically wise to keep both parents involved. Children usually want this and so does the court — though there are rare exceptions in cases of abuse, drug use or other such safety issues. Most often, custody gets split so that both parents have time with the kids when the marriage ends.
- Kids’ routines should stay as close to the same as possible. Children do not find routines boring, but comforting. Some of these routines may have to change if custody is now split between two homes, but those that can be maintained should be. Considerations include keeping the children in the same school, allowing them to see the same friends and keeping them involved with the same sports programs. A boy who plays football for his high school should be able to keep playing for that same team after the divorce, for instance, giving him the structure and routine he gets from his coaches and teammates.
- Children should be removed from debates, arguments and many divorce conversations. Parents should be honest with them and answer questions, of course, but divorce is stressful for kids. When around the children, parents should focus on being parents, not on being a couple that is splitting up.
These are just three ways to put the kids first, but it’s a focus you want to maintain throughout a divorce. Keep it in mind when looking into your legal options, breaking the news about the divorce and setting up a custody plan that works for everyone involved.