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Things to consider when divorcing with children

Divorce affects the entire family, and parents in California should consider how their children will deal with it. For example, if the child is deeply attached to both parents, they might want to agree to joint custody.

When to divorce

Timing can be important. Children who have recently suffered a loss or big change, whether it is the death of a family member, losing a pet or moving, may struggle more to adjust to the divorce. Children who are very young might have no memories of their family being together as they grow up, but changes the initial change in routine could be hard. Parents may need to assess their child’s individual coping skills.

How to cope

Parents should consider their own coping skills as well and think about how they will take care of themselves so that they can be there for their children. Whether or not they will be able to work together as parents after the divorce is important. This can mean setting aside some anger and other negative emotions to focus on the best interests of the child.

Changes to consider

Children may cope better if they have close friends. Parents should consider whether a divorce would be destabilizing for them financially and if they would have to uproot their children and move away from friends and family.

Getting a divorce does not always mean litigation, and parents are often able to negotiate an agreement for child custody with the assistance of their attorneys. Even if the divorce is not an amicable one, parents may be able to reach an agreement using an alternative dispute resolution method, such as mediation or collaborative divorce. This can be less expensive, less stressful and less time-consuming than going to court, and it gives parents more control over the outcome.