Divorce and Children: 7 Tips That Will Benefit Your Kids During Your Divorce
Tanya Stanish has been a family law attorney for 19 years, and is a Senior Partner at Schiller DuCanto & Fleck. But in addition to her excellent credentials, there’s something else that gives Stanish an edge when it comes to representing clients: her childhood experience.
“I was a child of divorce,” said Stanish, who has three siblings, and whose parents split up when she was just ten years old. “My parents fought in front of us, they rarely spoke to one another and we all felt all of that.”
Stanish said when her parents finally separated, life was actually better for she and her siblings, that the stressful situation went away, and that it was a much happier life for everyone, including her parents.
“That’s why when people talk to me and say, ‘I’m not sure I should get divorced because of my kids,’ I’m sensitive to it,” said Stanish, a DePaul University Law School graduate, who lives in the City with her two adopted children. “Divorce for my family was the best thing that could have happened to us. Living the way we were was very difficult.”
After hearing Stanish’s story, I asked her for advice for divorcing couples when it comes to their children. Here are her 7 tips:
- Get professional advice from a therapist on how to answer questions your kids will ask you, such as “Why are you getting divorced?” “Are you mad at dad (or mom?” “Where am I going to live?” Parents struggle with the answers to these questions and the answers are important because they can have a huge affect on kids.
- Look for changes and signs of a struggling child. Children often display unhealthy behavior due to the stress of a divorce, such as cutting themselves, not eating, temper tantrums, changes in school, changes in sleep, excessive crying, or depression. Professional therapy can be very helpful.
- Show them a lot of love and support. Assure them often that both mom and dad are still here for them and that nothing has changed as far as that is concerned.
- Talk to your attorney if you want your child’s opinion heard. If necessary, children can have a voice in decisions made in the divorce process. For example, if there is a reason they don’t want to spend half the time at each parent’s home, that can be addressed.
- Never, EVER talk negatively about your ex in front of your kids. This can be very difficult, but constant negative talking will have an affect on your children. Vent to your friends, family or a therapist, NOT to your children. Nothing good can come of it.
- Do not use your children as a vehicle to deliver messages. “Tell your mother I will pick you up at 4pm tomorrow,” is not appropriate. “Tell your dad I need the child support check,” is not appropriate. Communicate through phone, texting or e-mail, not your kids.
- Keep your children’s best interest in mind at all times, before speaking or any actions you might take. The divorce process can be emotional and infuriating at times. Before saying or doing anything, ask yourself, “Is this going to hurt my children?” If the answer is yes, think of another route of obtaining your objective. Putting kids in harms way is never a good option.
Tanya J. Stanish is a Senior Partner for Schiller DuCanto & Fleck. She is known for recognizing the unique factors of each case and tailoring her counsel to fit the client and the situation. Ms. Stanish represents a wide variety of clients, including prominent business executives, entrepreneurs, lawyers, doctors, professional athletes and stay-at-home spouses. Learn more: http://www.sdflaw.com/attorneys/tstanish/