Edward R. Weinstein, Esq.

Divorce Mistakes: Not Putting Your Children First

There are many mistakes that can be made when getting a divorce in New Jersey. It is a complex process where all aspects of your life are scrutinized. Working through the legal and emotional aspects can be overwhelming for most people and emotions tend to escalate. When children are involved the stakes are higher as both parents battle over not only separating their life as a couple but parenting time and support payments. Most parents go into the divorce process with the promise to protect children. But when negative emotions take over and “battle mode” is assumed, these three common mistakes are often made:

1. Parents sometimes use their children as pawns or bargaining chips when attempting to negotiate terms of their divorce. They leverage either child support or parenting time against other aspects up for negotiation and package the pieces together. This often looks like “if you want a certain amount in support then I want extra time with the children.” This type of vindictive behavior creates conflict which in the end causes devastation. Your children are not bargaining chips to use for favor or revenge regardless of circumstances.

2. Trying to get your children on your side – Children often, and rightfully so, should feel a loyalty and connection to both parents regardless of details of your divorce. Any attempts you make to garner unnatural favor with your child are putting them in an unnatural and unhealthy position. Children should not be forced to choose a side in any parental conflict, and this holds true even more so during the divorce process. The transition to mom and dad being divorced is traumatic enough for children. During this time of transition children need to be comforted and assured that their relationships with both parents are going to remain intact.

3. Badmouthing the other parent – by talking negatively about the other parent, children are shown that hatred is an acceptable form of behavior. Negative talk creates doubt and insecurity in the mind of the child during a time when they need a great deal of love and support. It can also create a distance between you and your child as they see you as a negative person. In doing this you run the risk of sabotaging your relationship with your child.

What can you do?

During and after the process of your divorce it is critical that you focus on the needs of your children. They should not, in any way be aware of hostility or specific details related to your divorce case. No matter where you are in the divorce process it is never too late to shift your inappropriate behavior and start focusing on the best interests of your children.

1) From the minute you make the decision to divorce, set a tone that both parties will keep the best interests of the children in mind. This high-road mentality will be a great benefit to your child. The high road includes shielding your child from all bitterness and disputes not talking about proceedings in front of them. Many couples find that they need to sit and agree to standards of conduct and possibly revisit those standards several times during and after the divorce process.

2) You and your ex should have a clear communication plan for dealing with all aspects of your child’s well-being and development. This includes extra-curricular activities, educational progress, friendships, accomplishments and struggles. Sharing experiences and knowledge will show your child that despite the family reorganization both parents are still committed to and interested in his/her life.

3) Help your child to understand that the divorce is not their fault. On some level, all children assume they could have done something to cause their parent’s split. Divorce is a decision that adults make and is not dependent on a child.

4) Listen attentively to everything your child has to say and respond in words they understand. Whatever they are feeling is normal and they should not feel so embarrassed that they cannot express their feelings to you.

5) Reassure your child that you, as well as the other parent both love him/her and everything is going to be ok.

Here at the Law Offices of Edward R. Weinstein, our team of expert New Jersey divorce lawyers looks forward to using expertise to guide you through the entire divorce process with a focus on shielding your children from the process and protecting your financial future. Please contact us immediately for your free consultation at (732) 246-0909