When it comes to the subject of children in divorce cases I have heard people say wildly different things about how kids fare after a divorce. I’ve either heard that children are incredibly resilient in the divorce did not faze them whatsoever or I have heard experiences about children suffering because of the breakup of a marriage. The reality of the situation is that it is probably different for every family in terms of how well the kids do or do not adapt to life after a divorce. Think for a moment about all the factors that went into your divorce. All those factors are more will likely play a role in determining how well your kids do after a divorce.
The difficult part about this topic is that there is only so much you can do to ease this transition period for your children. Like anything else in life, different children adapt to change in different ways. Whereas some children will struggle in adapting to a new school other children make friends and social connections with ease. This can have as much to do with the personality of your children as it does about your ability to parent them. While in many ways it would be nice to be able to determine how your children adapt to life after divorce the reality is that the age and maturity level of your kids have as much to do with this. That anything else. For that reason, there’s only so much you can do.
In today’s blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, I would like to share with you my thoughts on what signs you can watch for in your children to determine how they are adapting to life after a divorce. Without question, there will be some degree of change that they will experience in their lives both in the short and long term. However, that does not mean that you cannot play a role in helping them identify areas of their life that may need some love and care that only a parent can provide. With that said, here are some of my thoughts on what you can look for in terms of being able to identify problems and how you can help your child solve some of these issues.
Are your children acting strangely toward you?
Parental alienation is a major issue in divorce and child custody cases. Even though it plays a prominent role both during family cases and after family cases new parents are coached up on how to identify the warning signs of parental alienation and even if your parents know how to handle issues related to parental alienation once they arise. Before we go any further in today’s blog post I want to share with you what my definition of parental alienation is as well as how you can equip your family to avoid the worst of these side effects of parental alienation in your life.
parental alienation occurs when One parent uses their position to negatively influence the children towards their Co-parent. This can occur by coherently using their words, actions, and position of influence cause your child to feel badly towards one of their parents. In case this was not clear enough let’s walk through what parental alienation could look like on a practical level. Suppose that immediately after your divorce your child would come home from seeing her father and always have an attitude with you. Initially, you may have chalked this up to typical teenage angst but after a while, you may have become suspicious that it was something more.
The reason why you may have thought that it was something more was that your child would be fine with you during the week and on weekends with you. However, their attitude would change as soon as she stepped out of the house and began spending time with your ex-husband. When she would come home and display a negative attitude towards you it immediately got your attention, but you did not think it was anything two out of the ordinary. It was hard to distinguish between her behavior in these regards and her behavior just in her normal daily life.
It can be difficult to figure out what exactly is happening with your children especially when they are young. Younger children do not communicate all that well. On the flip side, while younger children do not communicate all that well they are also harder to influence because they simply do not understand much of what we talked to them about anyways. For this reason, very young children, children who have not yet reached school age, are difficult to manipulate or influence negatively. Parental alienation tends not to be as important a subject for children of this age.
As children get older, however, the issues that they face with parental alienation increase. Younger school-aged children can be subtly influenced by parents in ways that the children will likely never be able to pick up on. Mentioning you in a negative light or criticizing something seemingly benign about your nature can be enough to cause your child to think about you in a whole new light. The simple act of not disciplining you can be enough to cause your children to take solace in the parent who is more fun and less Chrome to discipline.
Teenage and older children can be the easiest group to manipulate and may be most susceptible to parental alienation tactics. Think about it in terms of how your child can’t get upset with you at this age for little to no reason at all. Teenage children naturally try to establish some degree of autonomy and assert themselves as individuals. As a result, they are prime targets to be manipulated spying on adults. It is an abuse of trust and authority for a parent to engage in alienating behavior. Unfortunately, all too often we see after divorce cases parents attempting to gain the upper hand through alienation.
If you were named as the primary conservator of your child in a divorce case, then your Co-parent may be upset and attempt to alienate your child to win primary conservatorship Down the line in a modification case. Many parents of older children understand that if they try to modify a custody order that judges must consider the testimony of a child over the age of 12 asked to whom they believe would be better suited to act as primary conservator. That doesn’t mean that the testimony of your child will be the sole determining factor in this, but it can certainly play a significant role depending upon the circumstances of your case and the judge in question. Therefore, your spouse may believe that he or she has an inside track to modifying conservatorships if a material and substantial change in circumstances can be proven.
They would argue that certainly, a strong desire of your son or daughter to live with your ex-spouse full time would be a significant enough change in circumstances to merit consideration of a modification. In that case, it will be up to you to prove that parental alienation had been occurring and to provide proof as much as possible about the behavior that your Co-parent had been engaging in.
It can also mean discussing with your Co-parent once you identify that alienating behavior is occurring. You should request an opportunity to speak to him or her in person about the behavior. There is no doubt that this conversation will be awkward, but you must walk through the issues associated with your case. Without being able to engage in conversations like this it will be difficult for you and your family to move past these issues.
Bear in mind that it can be difficult to enforce a divorce decree on grounds of parental alienation. First, there may not be anything in your final decree of divorce that specifically talks about parental alienation or even behavior that mirrors alienation. Even if your divorce decree does mention a prohibition against language or behavior like this it can be difficult to provide evidence to be able to show a judge that this behavior has occurred. This may be a matter of taking circumstances into your own hands and being direct with your Co-parent.
Depending upon the age of your child you may need to talk with him or her about the circumstances. Without a doubt, you will have to be able to have an honest discussion with your co-parent but at the same time does not alienate your child further by badmouthing that parent to your child. This is a fine line for you to have to walk but if you can manage it you can avoid the worst of the side effects associated with parental alienation. Your relationship with your child may hang in the balance so be sure to keep an eye on this type of behavior after your divorce or child custody case.
How is your child doing in school?
This is one of the most significant factors at play when it comes to how to identify if your child is adapting well after a divorce or child custody case. You need to be aware of how well your child had been doing in school and then monitor their interest level in classroom activities after the divorce or child custody case has come to an end. Probably the most straightforward method of how your child doing in school will be based on their grades. You can ask yourself how your child is doing before and after the divorce. It does not take much for your child’s grades in school to suffer when they are distracted. This may mean that you need to reach out to your child and to the school to inform them of what is going on. It may be a good decision to inform the school of what is going on in your child’s life so that they can keep an eye on him or her as well.
You may need to take a more hands-on approach with your child at school after the divorce. This could mean spending extra time with him or her when doing homework or preparing for exams. If you have a younger child, then it may mean that you could ensure that your child is engaging with their classmates and isolating themselves socially speaking. Being able to immerse yourself in schoolwork and social life as a child can be incredibly important when you are going through a divorce. After a divorce many a child has been able to adapt sufficiently well to life after divorce does to their friends. Do not underestimate the impact of your child’s school life on their overall mental well-being. We have seen in the past couple of years the bad effects that can occur to children who are denied the ability to attend school in person. You can help your child to ensure that the transition into a post-divorce world is not overly difficult by keeping them well connected with their classmates and on task when it comes to their schoolwork.
Staying active with your kids
This is something that could benefit you just as much as your children. It is not difficult to track down studies and other pieces of information which detail How exercise can benefit you not only from your physical health but also in your mental health. Hopefully, you have been able to exercise throughout your divorce or child custody case to relieve stress and to benefit yourself in other ways. The question now is to what extent you will be able to help your children in much of the same way. Kids need exercise just like adults need exercise.
Size exercise may not be something that you and your family have focused much attention on over the recent past period no one could blame you if your schedules as well as the concerns regarding other areas of your life took supremacy for a period as far as your habits are concerned. However, now that your family law case is over with you and your family can and should focus on exercising to the extent possible considering your specific circumstances. For example, why not take advantage of the cooler weather and go for a walk with your family before or after a meal? This is an example of a low-impact exercise that could greatly benefit your kids.
Being able to determine whether your child is going through a lot of stress regarding your post-divorce life could be no more difficult than determining whether he or she is gaining weight. If your child is gaining weight after a family law case it could be due to stress, inactivity, a change in diet, or even a change in their schedule. For example, if you have been eating dinner later in the evening that could directly relate to a gain in weight not only for you but also for your child. Getting out and exercising can be a fun way to build an even stronger relationship with your child while contributing positively to their overall physical and mental well-being.
It may also benefit your child for you to sign him or her up for a local sports league or other activity like this. Martial arts, sports, we’re just about any activity where there is some degree of physicality involved can help your child to build confidence, maintain weight and develop social skills. There is almost no limit to the benefits of your child engaging in activities like this. However, it does take some planning on your part and some forethought on how you are going to arrange your child’s schedule considering overall changing circumstances associated with the divorce.
Closing thoughts on helping your child after a divorce or child custody case
When it comes to life after divorce you are your child’s best advocate. In many cases, you will be your child’s only advocate. This is a great responsibility for you but also allows you to be able to step up and help your child when he or she needs you the most. I hope that you have seen that the steps that you can take do not have to be overly complicated or complex. Simply taking a greater interest in the life of your child may be all takes for you all to move your life forward tremendously after a divorce or child custody case. A lot of this process will not be pleasant for you or your child. However, it will be necessary and can stand to benefit you both in the short and long run.
Questions about the material contained in today’s blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
if you have any questions about the material presented in today’s blog post please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law as well as about how your family circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case.