One of the best things you can do for your family during a divorce is to think hard at outset about what it means to put your children first. Determine what changes you need to make in your own attitude and conduct to reflect that decision. This advice applies regardless of your spouse’s anticipated behavior in relation to the children. Don’t get drawn into the blame game and the “tit-for-tat.” Those adult games can damage your children’s sense of security and their self-esteem. Remember that your children are extremely sensitive during a divorce. As Robert Fulghum stated: “Don’t worry that your children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you.” Your conduct should reflect that wisdom.
Often during the divorce process, the parties do a lot of finger pointing and blaming. Rarely do both wife and husband take full responsibility for their own part in the break up. At the outset, take a few minutes to remember what it was like to be a child. Children want and need both a mother and a father. They want to know what to expect day to day. They want to get to school on time and pursue their own interests, studies and friendships. They do not want to take sides or mediate adult disputes. They certainly do not want to witness their own parents acting like children or having nasty public disputes. This creates unnecessary hardship and stress. The adults in the family can relieve that problem by resolving to take the high road and put the children first. This means thinking of their feelings before deciding to lash out or grumble about your spouse in front of the kids.
The vast majority of parents in the state of Florida enjoy “shared parental responsibility” for their children. The legislature has outlined the meaning of that concept as follows:
“It is the public policy of the state that each minor child has frequent and continuing contact with both parents after the parents separate or the marriage of the parties is dissolved and to encourage parents to share the rights and responsibilities, and joys of child rearing.”
Section 61.13(2)(c) 1, Florida Statutes (2012)
The law expressly states that “there is no presumption for or against the father or mother of the child or for or against any specific timesharing schedule when creating or modifying the parenting plan of the child.” F.S. 61.13(2)(c) 1
Unfortunately, many parents suffer from what one family law attorney refers to as “my child syndrome.” Those afflicted with this tendency refer to the children as “my kids” or “my son,” or “my daughter.” That slip of the tongue reflects the attitude that your child has only one parent. Some divorcing parents are surprised to learn that a Parenting Plan is designed with the best interest of the children in mind, not the best interest of the parents.
We all learn more during tough times than in the good times- your children are no different. Try adopting a wise attitude during your divorce: “Live so that when your children think of fairness, caring and integrity, they think of you.” (H. Jackson Browne, Jr.) What better legacy could you leave them?
The attorneys at Rice & Rose are committed to guiding families through the process of a divorce with sensitivity and strength. Should you need a divorce consultation, please call and we will schedule an appointment to answer all of your questions.