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In a separation or divorce, the basic rule is: Your Child Comes First. Here are a few coping strategies:

  1. Both parents should explain to the child that each parent’s love for the child is absolute and that the child will have a continuing relationship with grandparents, relatives and friends.
  2. Be aware that a child is usually more aware of marital discord than many parents realize.
  3. Discuss future living arrangements openly with your child (if age appropriate) and emphasize that every effort will be made to maximize the time that the child will spend with each parent.

Yow child’s view of separation and divorce will be influenced by each parent’s conscious and unconscious “messages” to the child. Promise yourself and your spouse that:

  1. Your child will not be placed in the middle of or held hostage to any legal dispute.
  2. Your hostility/distrust/anger will be the parent’s and not the child’s problem.
  3. Your child will not be used as a messenger to transmit information, documents or money.
  4. Your child’s emotional health is too important to consider using the child as a confidante.

If you experience difficulty in anticipating or determining your child’s feelings, seek professional advice. If there are problems concerning substance abuse and physical abuse, seek immediate assistance to protect the child’s right to be treated with care and respect.

Ask your lawyer as many questions as are necessary for you to completely understand the problems faced by children dealing with separation and divorce. Your lawyer will explain the difference between what a court may do for you (as well as a court’s limitations) and the process of negotiating an agreement which may accomplish what a court may do — and then some.