You should always consider what is best for you and your children as you prepare for your divorce.
Divorce is a time of uncertainty for many reasons. You may find yourself wondering where your marriage went wrong, how long and difficult the process will be before you reach a resolution, and what your life will look like after the divorce is finalized. If you and your spouse have children, there are even more questions to consider as you try to make sure that the divorce has as little negative impact on your kids as possible.
It is easy to get overwhelmed by all of the decisions you will need to make, but if you take the time to think through some important questions, you will have a better idea of the topics you should address with your spouse during settlement negotiations to ensure your children’s needs are provided for, or the outcomes you will need to fight for in court in the event your divorce goes to trial. A Naperville family law attorney can provide guidance to make sure you consider all of the ways your divorce can affect your children and that you have a solid plan to address them. Read on for some of the biggest questions you will need to answer.
Where Will Your Children Live?
Throughout your marriage, you and your children may have developed a strong attachment to your family home, and you may be concerned about whether either parent will be able to keep the home after your divorce. You and your spouse will have to determine how to divide your assets, including the family home, in your divorce, but if you decide that it is important for your kids to continue living there and your financial situation allows for it, you may be able to reach an agreement in which one parent gets to keep the home in exchange for other assets. If you do have to move out of your marital home, you will need to look for a place that offers your children comfortable living space, and consider whether it is important that the new location allows your children to continue going to the same school. You will also need to work out with your spouse how much time the children will spend living with each parent.
Who Will Provide for Your Children Financially?
Each state has its own rules and procedures governing child support payments after a divorce, including a process for determining which parent will make payments to the other and calculating the amount. In general, child support laws are meant to ensure that each parent continues to contribute financially to their children’s well-being even if they are not married and that they do so in proportion to their ability to pay. You can prepare for child support discussions by considering your children’s basic needs, including food, clothing, and shelter, and the standard of living they have been accustomed to before your divorce. You should also identify any special costs that need to be covered through child support, including education and healthcare expenses.
Who Will Be Responsible For Your Children’s Upbringing?
In many divorces, both parents are interested in continuing to be involved in their children’s lives and contributing to important decisions about how they will be raised. An important aspect of your divorce negotiations with your spouse will be creating a parenting plan that outlines child custody expectations and parental responsibilities. Your parenting plan can address much more than simply who the children will be living with, including who will have responsibility for decisions about the children’s education, religion, involvement in extracurricular activities, and household rules. You may decide that both parents will be involved in all of these decisions, but each parent may have certain strengths or shared activities with your children that you want to specifically address in your plan. If possible, you should also plan for regular communication with your ex to maintain consistency for your children and ensure a smooth co-parenting strategy.
How Much Time Will Your Children Spend With Each Parent?
Along with the allocation of parental responsibilities, your parenting plan should also include a parenting time schedule outlining when the children will live and spend time with each parent. You and your spouse will need to consider whether the time should be divided evenly or with more time allocated to one parent, and you may want to account for your children’s school and other activities as well as the work schedules of you and your spouse. You should decide if your kids will alternate weeks spent with each parent, or spend a few days with each parent every week. You will also need to determine how you and your spouse will divide the time spent with your children on holidays. If your divorce involves the relocation of one spouse now or in the future, you may need to consider alternative strategies like having the kids spend the entire summer with one parent, or including phone time in your parenting plan.
Woman and child touching faces, image by Bruno Nascimento, via Unsplash.com.
What Support Will Your Children Need to Cope With the Divorce?
Regardless of the decisions you make, your children will need support to cope with the emotional stress that comes with your divorce. Sometimes, this means offering a listening ear to their concerns and reassurance of your love for them. Support from extended family and friends can also be helpful, especially if your children have friends who have been through a divorce and can empathize with their experience. In some cases, a family or children’s therapist can help your children work through their emotions about the divorce, either with you or on their own. Remember that coping with divorce will be an ongoing process for both you and your children and that it may not always be obvious how the divorce is affecting your children, so patience and understanding are key.
You should always consider what is best for you and your children as you prepare for your divorce, but that does not mean that you have to make every decision on your own. A DuPage County divorce lawyer can help you understand the legal processes for all important decisions impacting your family and offer guidance and representation in negotiations and court proceedings to make sure your children are safe, secure, and well provided for.