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Divorce does not have to be devastating for children if parents can get along

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There are many articles written on “Should I stay married for the children” or “What is an appropriate age for children whose parents want a divorce?”

The one fact that is rarely discussed is the relationship of the parents prior and after the divorce. If parents can be civil with one another and agree on terms in the best interest of their children then divorce will not be so devastating on the kids. Once a couples decides that the marriage is over they should seek a private mediator separate from the court system that has experience with co-parenting, as well how to set up a schedule in the child’s best interest not the parents.

Parents don’t often realize what a nightmare the court system is, and how they lose control over being the parents of their kids and hand it over to an inexperienced often over worked court mediator. That mediator interviews the parents and then the kids separately…..then they decide the fate of the children, and often times it is not based on the needs of the children but what the court parameters are set. Many times the mediator with just suggest 50/50 split custody, with the children spending one week with mom and the other week with dad. This is the most common out come and this does not benefit most children.

Parents should take into consideration the age of the children and the relationship prior to splitting up and do their best to try and maintain that schedule. If the children were used to spending more time with one parent then the other, then work that into the agreement. Parents should remain flexible with each other, so that the child is not caught in between mommy and daddy using them as tools for negotiation. Younger children according to developmental statics and biological needs should spend more time with the mother and as the child gets older have a plan in place to add more time with dad. In some circumstances where dad was the primary care giver for the young child then stick to that schedule and then slowly begin to add in more time with mom. There is a biological attachment that mother nature, created in women to stay attached to young children, and for the mother extended periods of time where the children are not with her, she can slowly lose that natural attachment.

Teenage years are one of the most difficult times on kids for parents to divorce, because of the changes to the mind and body of the teen, it can add to the stress of an already stressful period of adjustment. Many times parent will say that they are going to wait until their kids get older to leave the marriage, not understanding that the older the child is the more adjustment they will have to make. A younger child will adapt much quicker to a new routine, then a child that has already spent 14 years in a family setting.

School is another factor that can play a part in helping the child adjust, and that is trying to keep the child at the same school if possible, so as to not disrupt their friendships and sense of normalcy.

Lastly, parents should always keep in mind that the child is a part of both of them and when one parent says something bad to the child about the other parent it only hurts the child.

You shame the other parent you shame the child…..

For more information or to seek private mediation contact the team of Dawn Michael M.A. mediator coach/counselor and Scott Barella, MS, LMFT court approved Co-Parenting Counselor, and author of four Co-Parenting books. Both Scott and Dawn have been featured on national television, and sought out for their expertise in their field. (805) 732-7847 Dawn (805) 582-2619 Scott. or email



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