Divorce is a significant life decision. It’s often difficult to ask your spouse for divorce, especially if you have children. Many people say that they’ll divorce once the kids grow up or move off to college. This may not always be the best decision for you or your children.
While divorce can be hard on children, studies show that children whose parents share custody fare no worse or better than children with one parent who has sole custody.
The Institute for Family Studies examined 54 studies and reached the following conclusions:
- Joint or sole custody reduces a child’s stress. If things have been tense in your home, chances are that your child has picked up on this. Research shows that removing them from this environment reduces children’s’ stress, anxiety and depression.
- Divorce doesn’t alter parent-child relationships. Are you worried that your child spending the weekends with your spouse will weaken your relationship? There is no link between parent-child closeness and overnight visitation.
- Little to no connection between legal conflict and a child’s happiness. This isn’t surprising. Many divorcees are conscientious of involving their kids in the conflicts of their divorce that they leave them as far from the legal conflicts as they can.
With a little planning, you and your co-parent can set your child up for success. Divorce is a big transition for any family, but you can make life easier for your children by setting a good example and treating your ex with respect and encouraging them to maintain strong relationships with them.
A plan can help
One way to ensure this is creating a parenting plan that outlines which parent has custody and when. Beware that most sole and joint custody parents don’t agree on a plan the first time. That’s okay. It can take multiple drafts to create an agreement that is as unique as your family.
As hard as their parents’ divorce can be, removing a child from an environment of conflict has several emotional benefits for them. There’s no perfect time for big life events like a divorce and you may find that you and your child reap positive benefits in your new life once you make the plunge.