The first week of January is annually the highest divorce filing and inquiry week of the year. 20% of those couples will end up in divorce court. Therapists Carol Hughes and Bruce Fredenburg write, “that often 80% or more of the difficulties [in divorces] arise from the emotional aspects and that only 20% or less comprises strictly legal and financial issues.”1
Fortunately there is a method that includes the emotional component.
In her article “What We Can Learn From This Revolutionary Divorce Court,”2 Dr. Ruth Bettelheim shares how a family court in Maryland has put the kids in the center of the mix—in a good way.
The kids are taken into a private room and interviewed in a relaxing non-threatening way. The kids are recorded giving their perspectives and wish list for the divorce. Later, with the children’s approval, the parents, attorneys, and mediators listen.
Hearing the children’s authenticity doesn’t stop most of the divorces, but often moves parents to really put the kids first and dial down the acrimony.
While this approach is aimed at the 20% of couples who end up in court, the principles are wise for all divorcing couples with children. I’ve found that these parents really care about the kids, but often don’t have the counsel to help them navigate their own pain while making decisions in a child-friendly way.
That counsel is here now. If it’s not available in your area, more and more lawyers are participating in Collaborative Divorce. This method involves counselors, family planners/mediators and others in tandem with the lawyers. This team works together (collaboratively) toward a solution that meets the needs of the parents and the kids.
The kids will always be a part of the divorce. Jesus said,
“Beware that you don’t look down on any of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels are always in the presence of my heavenly Father.”
God expects parents to honor their children’s needs even in the divorce process. These new systems can help.