Divorce is hard for everyone in the family, but it can be particularly devastating for young children. Kids may not understand why their parents’ relationship no longer works. They may feel intense sorrow or guilt, as children tend to view the world in a very egocentric manner. In other words, they will possibly conclude that the end of your marriage is somehow their fault.
That presumption can lead to a lot of emotional conflict and even serious issues with problems like mental health conditions or addiction. Thankfully, divorce is not inherently damaging, provided you and your ex approach it in a pragmatic and thoughtful manner.
By working together, you can significantly limit the emotional fallout that your children experience as you move through your Illinois divorce.
Don’t let your children witness the conflict
Fighting between parents is often the most damaging aspect of a divorce for the children. If you and your ex can agree to keep things civil, especially in front of the children, that can go a long way toward mitigating the negative consequences of divorce for your family.
If you find that avoiding arguments is easier said than done, you may want to consider working with a third party for custody exchanges or agreeing to only communicate in writing to avoid flaring emotions and verbal arguments. Therapy can also help you find ways to work together as co-parents.
It isn’t just direct conflict but also anger that can upset children. When you are alone with your children, you should take great care to only speak in positive terms about your ex and their relationship with the kids. Remember, you will have to work together as parents for many years in the future.
Handle issues outside of court if you can
Other than avoiding explosive conflict in the family home or during custody exchanges, the most straightforward way to make a divorce easier on the children is to keep it out of the courts. A litigated divorce can sometimes require that the children testify about their custody preferences. It may also involve testimony that could damage the children’s opinions of and relationships with their parents.
Whether you can negotiate through your individual attorneys or require the help of a neutral third party like a mediator, it is possible to file an uncontested divorce where you and your ex set the terms and simply ask the Illinois courts to approve them.
Even in that situation, it’s important that you work with an attorney at every step of the process to prevent issues such as emotional manipulation or pressure from your ex leading to a less favorable outcome.