The emotional upheaval of divorce is something that Michigan parents don’t always anticipate, especially as it affects the children. But where there have been fundamental issues between the parents that never get resolved and create an unhealthy home environment, divorce will ultimately be the best decision in the long term.
Once things get set in motion, all that is involved with separation, property division, custody, and support issues can overshadow the stress that the children are also feeling. How the parents handle the divorce process, and how well they communicate with children who are old enough to understand, can make a tremendous difference in the children’s ability to adjust to these life changes.
Helping children cope with divorce
Divorce impacts children differently at various stages of their development. Young children under 3 years tend to respond to changed circumstances with sleep issues, clingy behavior and temper tantrums, whereas school-aged children may get into fights, have attention or withdrawal symptoms, or difficulty maintaining their grades. Adolescents can become aggressive, engage in risky behaviors, or become withdrawn and depressed.
While the divorce is taking place, it is important for the parents to give more attention to the children and keep communication open with each other, especially regarding custody and parenting time arrangements. If parents are angry or not willing to compromise, this will only heighten the stress the children are already feeling.
As parents plan the separation, they should sit down with the children, together if possible, to let them know what is happening. Reassuring them that what is happening is not their fault and that they still love them will help the transition, and for children who are old enough to understand, explain where they are going to live and when they will see each parent.
Custody in Michigan
Michigan courts start from the standpoint that both parents can potentially have equal custody and parenting time rights, barring any mitigating factors that might change this determination. The priority in making such decisions is what is in the best interest of the child, and so a few factors a judge will look at are:
- The emotional bond that the child has to each parent
- The ability of each parent to provide an established custodial environment (ECE)
- A history of domestic violence or neglect
As Livingston County parents prepare for divorce, taking care of the needs of the children will become a challenging but necessary priority moving forward.