Timing Your Divorce When Children Are Involved

As a divorce mediator, I get asked a lot of questions that I would consider to be “outside of the box.” Typically, my skill set involves providing legal information, while assisting my clients in a peaceful, amicable divorce negotiation. Sometimes, however, I get questions that have a more personal feel. One of those questions is whether it is better to get a divorce when a couple’s children are young, or if it is better to wait it out until the children are older. Since I am not a marriage and family therapist, I do not have a psychology-based answer to this question. The only piece of advice I give is for the couple to listen to their inner voice. Put simply, there is no good time to get a divorce. It is like a lot of other things in life. Some people say it feels like there is no good time to start graduate school due to financial circumstances or to have children. However, if you wait for this ideal “good time” you may be giving more years of your life to a marriage that just is not working. Only you can judge whether this is the case or not.

Your divorce mediator can give you a lot of guidance on matters pertaining to your divorce. We can give you legal information, provide you with highly qualified referrals to different professionals, and even help you with some of the administrative pieces. We can’t, however, help you determine what time is right. Based on our experience, here are some things I suggest you think about if you are considering whether or not to start your divorce:

1. Is there any chance that you can work on your marriage?

Sometimes, people have come to our office without exhausting all of the options. When a judge is about to terminate a couple’s marital status, he or she will ask the couple if counseling or court intervention could assist the couple in any efforts to reconcile. Before you consider divorce mediation or divorce at all, ask yourself this question. Am I really ready to end my marriage? Are the events that have transpired so significant that I cannot attempt to repair my marriage through counseling or other assistance? If the answer is yes, it is likely that it may be time to move forward. If you are working with a family therapist, get his/her input on how to break the news to your children.

2. What will my life look like if I am divorced?

Believe it or not, we have actually had several couples reconcile after completing the mediation process. This is because when they had started the process, they had not considered what their lives would actually be like after the divorce. Remember, even though you will be dividing your assets and potentially paying/receiving support, you are still supporting two households on the same exact income that you used to use to support one. This will be a shift in your lifestyle, whether you want that or not. Your children will be impacted as well. They will now have two homes. Imagine having to have two homes as an adult. How stressful! Your kids will have to get used to this as part of your decision to divorce. Ask yourself whether the conflict your kids may be exposed to now while you are married is better or worse than what they will have to go through as part of the transition that comes along with divorce.

At Alternative Divorce Solutions, we can appreciate that divorce is a difficult decision. It is always better to start the conversation with a caring and highly trained professional.