[Guest Post] How Divorce Affects Children: Advice from a Florida Divorce Attorney

Today we have a guest post by Blair Chan III, a Florida Divorce Attorney. 

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Thousands of kids experience the stress of divorce each year. How they react depends on their age, personality, and the circumstances of the separation and divorce process.

Every divorce will affect the kids involved — and many times the initial reaction is one of shock, sadness, frustration, anger, or worry. But kids also can come out of it better able to cope with stress, and many become more flexible, tolerant young adults.

In the eyes of a parent, a child’s opinion may not matter in a divorce. For some parents, their minds have been made up, and they will fight for sole custody of their children regardless of what it takes. In other cases, parents want what is best for their children and will allow them to choose which parent they want to live with.

If you are going through a divorce, you want to decide what is best for your children without hurting them or causing them more pain or difficulty than necessary.

Kids Matter

Obviously the happiness of your child is as important as your own, but their happiness and opinions matter more than you think.

A divorce can be a difficult thing for a child to comprehend. Most of the time they don’t understand what is going on. It is hard for your children to understand why you’re separating and why they have to choose between each parent. Handling a divorce civilly and kindly can help ensure that your children aren’t feeling any blame for the situation.

Your children may have feelings of regret or resentment if one parent gets sole custody and they do not see the other parent. If both parents treat the children kindly and appropriately, sharing custody is often in the best interest of the child.

Writing a Parenting Plan

A parenting plan is a great way to help determine the custody arrangements of the children. This helps each parent to agree on scheduled days and times to spend with the child(ren).

When both parents are willing participants in writing a parenting plan, most judges are likely to accept the agreement. Florida judges are also more than willing to write the parenting plan for the family if the parents cannot come to an agreement; however, most courts prefer that the parents come to their own agreement.

If the courts are left to determine the custody options, they will consider the following:

- The relationship of the parents

- Any history of evidence of crime of abuse

- Individual financial situations of both parents

After the Divorce

After the divorce has been finalized, it is important to ensure that you are following all of the rules according to your parenting plan. If you are required to pay child support, remember that child support is what helps provide your child with the things they need that the other parent may be unable to afford.

Your relationship with your child may seem like it is going to suffer, but you can reduce the impact of how your children will be affected by following the guidelines set by the court and treating your ex-spouse as civilly as possible despite any differences.

Florida Requires Parenting Classes

In Florida, the divorce process is straightforward, except if you have children. With children, you are required under law to take a parenting class. This class is designed not for you, but for your children, ensuring you and your soon-to-be ex will be able to handle the task of co-parenting regardless of how far apart you will be after the divorce.

The Purpose

A large number of children in Florida deal with the separation or divorce of their parents. Because parental conflict is common, the courts are concerned about how these conflicts will affect the well-being of any children involved. That is why couples with children, who are thinking of getting divorced, must go through a court-approved parenting class before they can finalize their divorce.

The goal of these courses is to help parents consider the best interests of their children, while determining the proper arrangements for their children. It is recommended that parents take this course at the beginning of the divorce process, before litigation begins.

What is Covered?

A court-approved parenting class must cover specific areas that are defined by Florida laws. Parents must engage in a minimum of four hours of education and training, learning the consequences of their divorce, and how to properly manage co-parenting after the divorce is final.

Some topics that are covered in a court-approved parenting course include, but are not limited to:

- Custody

- Child Care

- Time-Sharing

- Child Support

- Issues regarding spousal neglect

- Financial responsibilities of each parent

- The emotional aspects of divorce and how it impacts children involved

Can I Be Excused from a Parenting Class?

Only the judge can excuse you from a parenting class. Not attending one or refusing to attend one could result in a contempt of court. If you do not complete your required parenting course, you may lose time-sharing rights as well. In instances of domestic violence, the court may approve for you to take the course separately, but in general, couples are required to take the course at the same time.

Parting Thoughts

There are many ways you can help your kids adjust to separation or divorce. Your patience, reassurance, and listening ear can minimize tension as children learn to cope with new circumstances. By providing routines kids can rely on, you remind children they can count on you for stability, structure, and care. And if you can maintain a working relationship with your ex, you can help kids avoid the stress that comes with watching parents in conflict. Such a transitional time can’t be without some measure of hardship, but you can powerfully reduce your children’s pain by making their well-being your top priority.

Author Bio: Blair’s practice is exclusively devoted to family law. After earning his undergraduate degree in Psychology from the University of Texas at Arlington, he was awarded his law degree from the Stetson University College of Law. He has practiced law in the Tampa Bay area since 2002.

Blair is also Board Certified in Marital and Family Law by the Florida Bar.

You can learn more about Blair and his practice by visiting B Chan Law

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Shawn Leamon, MBA, CDFA

Dallas, Texas

Shawn C. H. Leamon is Managing Partner of LaGrande Global, a firm that helps successful families manage large financial transitions like divorce, inheritance and selling a business.

He earned his Bachelor of Arts from Dartmouth College, double majoring in Economics and Philosophy, and his Masters in Business Administration at Spain’s IE Business School.

Before founding LaGrande Global, Shawn helped manage $1.1 billion in client assets at Bernstein Global Wealth Management. He also worked as a credit research analyst at J.P. Morgan. He is a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst, and he has been an advisor to numerous high-stakes divorce cases.

Shawn is the author of two well-received finance books: Managing Private Wealth: Principles, and Divorce and Your Money: The No-Nonsense Guide, both published in 2016.

In his spare time, Shawn is an ultra-endurance athlete and has competed in events as long as 24 hours. He is an Eagle Scout and a member of the Alumni Board of Greenhill School.