Though it may be the most difficult decision you ever make, divorce is often the best choice in marriages where spouses have grown to resentment. Leaving your husband or wife can offer a solution to the fights, the anger, and the frustration. Suddenly, you have the opportunity to start anew: you can settle in a new home, make it entirely your own, and build a life separate from the one you’ve known. When children are involved, however, you’ve got more than just yourself to think about, that’s why you should consider getting professional help from divorce lawyers and Forensic Psychiatrists.
According to a divorce attorney, kids at or above the age of 12 have the opportunity to pick a parent — and a household — to remain with for the majority of the time. Since the home gets pulled apart during divorce proceedings due to the division of assets, one parent inevitably needs to find a new place to live. Regardless of the decision your child makes on where and who to live with, it’s your responsibility to ensure they’re happy and comfortable in your new living situation. Here are a few ways to do just that after you contact a divorce lawyer.
- Stay consistent. Just because your marriage is over doesn’t mean your responsibilities as a parent have changed. You’ll need to work together with your ex to establish consistent ground rules: what applies at one household should extend to the other. Your child is already experiencing one of the biggest changes they’ll ever have to go through, so this consistency will allow them an unfaltering foundation to fall back on for support.
- Create dual calendars. Switching back and forth between homes can be frustrating and confusing for everyone involved, especially at the beginning of this already tumultuous time. Residential calendars — in both homes — can help establish a routine. Kids will more easily be able to plan and prepare their expectations about where they’re going and when, and letting them decorate the calendars themselves can help them feel a bit more in control of it all.
- Let them have a say. Your child’s new space will be foreign and uncomfortable to them when they’re first introduced to it. Rather than stepping in and taking control, allow them to be involved in its decoration and layout: ask their opinions on paint color, furnishings — even something as simple as what kind of bedding they like can turn a stressful experience into a personal, exciting one.
- Make it familiar. Though the divorce will feel overwhelming and exhausting, it’s important that you don’t alter too much too quickly; in excessive amounts, newness and change can cause children to shrink even further into themselves. As a way to combat this response, discuss the sharing of favorite and familiar items — like a special nightlight or piece of furniture — with your ex before the move. This way, your child will experience a new place that has remnants of the one they’re used to and the whole thing will be just a little bit more manageable.
Studies have shown that there are three main definitions of a happy home: a space where you feel secure (69%), a place where you can relax (64%), and a space where you are free to be yourself (57%). If you do your best to follow the above suggestions, your child will be surrounded by all of them, and they’ll adjust to their new living arrangements with ease.