Your children will soon head out the door to start another school year. You’ve done what you can to make their summer break one of exploration, new adventures, travels, and all the other ways you can think of spending summer break.
You have done what you could this summer – as you hope to do throughout the year – to let your children know they are loved.
Going Back to School after Divorce Can be Stressful for Parents and Kids.
Being a summer parent has its unique stresses. They include arranging play dates, packing lunches, picking them up on time, having dinner ready, baths, flossing, and getting them to bed to get ready for the next day.
Transitioning back to school after divorce and switching to a new schedule brings with them another set of stresses. If you’re divorced or contemplating divorce, these stresses can be unwanted and overwhelming. They can also have an extremely negative impact on your children – an impact that they’ll likely carry through their lives.
Consider the following and how each contributes to stress for you and your children:
- Disagreements about a child’s bedtime
- One parent is always on for helping with homework and the other not so much (or in a different way)
- One parent is less punctual for appointments or events
- The other parent does not bother to see the children, leaving the children confused and unhappy
- You have a child with special needs and the other parent just does not “get it”
- There is a lack of communication regarding the children, creating uncertainty, confusion, and even fear
- Whenever the parents get together, they argue, whether the child is present or not
Of course, this is not an exhaustive list. There are many stressors that make it hard to parent effectively. What you may not know, is that it’s entirely possible to reduce the stresses on you and your children when it comes to going back to school after divorce. The first step you take is to select a Collaborative Divorce process.
The Benefits of the Collaborative Process
After 20 years of being a Family Law Litigator, during which I did immeasurable damage to families and myself by creating, rather than resolving, conflict, I took my initial Collaborative training in 2008 and felt an immediate sensation of “coming home”. Having found the work that is going to guide the balance of my professional life I laid down my sword and shield and chose the Collaborative path.
Whether you have already been divorced or if you are contemplating divorce, consider these benefits of the Collaborative Process:
The focus of the process is on the children and helping the parents create a strong co-parenting relationship.
The process is premised on a commitment of everyone involved to resolve all issues out of court. This commitment is absolute, with all professionals being disqualified from contested hearings in the event the parties are unable to create a resolution in the process. This means that everyone is “all in”, and nobody can use the process in bad faith, or to gain information to be used against a party in future court actions.
The process is based on full disclosure and good faith. This means that the parties save money on the usual information methods of interrogatories, depositions, subpoenas, etc. . . . . .;
In the process, most parties come out at the end having a greater ability to communicate with each other, which reduces conflict and greatly minimizes the likelihood that the parties would need to hire attorneys to help them through future conflicts.
The process ensures that you are working with “experts” on all fronts: financial; emotional; child-related issues; and legal. You will not be pressured or coerced to make a decision and we will ensure that you have all the information you need to make a decision.
While all legal process come with a cost, there is a clear financial benefit to choosing the Collaborative Process in that this cost is paid up front and the parents build skills that help them to minimize future conflict and the legal costs of that conflict.
Creating a Legacy
When I meet with a client for the first time they are inevitably struggling. They are faced with having to understand how their marriage, entered into in love, hope, and good intentions turned into something that hurts. It’s not what they intended, or what they want. If they have children, they are worried about how the divorce is going to impact their children.
My job as a Collaborative Divorce attorney is to help my client move from where they are now to their new, post-divorce life and to help them develop skills that will help them in that life. This can be a daunting and scary experience.
My approach in working with clients in a Collaborative divorce setting is to see the process as an opportunity to “create a legacy”.
A Few Things to Keep in Mind If You Are Facing Divorce
- This is not your parents’ divorce. You have the opportunity to divorce in a mutually respectful manner, keeping the children and their well-being at the forefront;
- While you are moving from a nuclear (one-house) household to a bi-nuclear (two-house) household, you will ALWAYS be a family;
- You have the chance to create a legacy for your children, one which has a strong co-parent relationship, reduces stress for you and for the children, and which is more likely to lead your children to say they are proud of their parents’ ability to keep them out of the parental conflict;
- The divorce process involves three areas of “uncoupling”: physical, emotional, and financial. These will not all be done at the same time so be ready to accomplish these things at different times before you are legally divorced;
- I would like to know what a “happy you” looks like so that as we work together and eventually finish our work, I will know by looking at you how the Collaborative Process worked;
- You and your spouse are deserving of happiness. Your children benefit greatly by having happy parents; and
- We are looking for a durable agreement, one that is not based on a winner and a loser, but on an agreement where you can say you treated your spouse fairly, that they treated you fairly, and your spouse can say the same thing.
Go Back to School With a Strong Co-Parent Relationship
We started with a discussion of the stresses involved in transitioning from the summer to the back to school schedule.
Imagine going “back to school” with a strong co-parent relationship, where the stress the children are going to experience going back to school is not exacerbated by the stress of their parents’ relationship.
Now imagine having that stress reduced or done away with altogether, where you child’s return to school becomes a celebration and a ritual.
Which one would YOU choose?
Kevin R. Scudder is the inspiration behind the Seattle Collaborative Law Center, PLLC, and is motivated in his legal work by “Peacemaking: Let It Begin With Me”. Kevin is a Board Member for the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals (IACP). www.scudderlaw.net
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