If child custody and support is an issue of your divorce, you know that navigating this process is not just about what you need and want. You must also think about solutions that are in your child’s best interests.
In fact, many Minnesota and Wisconsin parents are prepared to set aside their priorities and pride in favor of their children. If this is in line with what you hope to accomplish with a divorce, you can pursue a child-centered divorce.
Figuring things out together
Parents may not love or trust each other anymore, but when they both want what is best for their kids, working together can be best.
Cooperation offers a few significant benefits:
- It sets a positive example for your kids;
- It makes it easier to work out creative solutions, like birdnesting* or other non-traditional custody arrangements; and
- It helps a child feel confident that they will still be safe and loved, even though their parents are splitting up.
Working out divorce-related issues together can also allow parties to have more control over the outcome.
Litigation can be enormously stressful for kids, despite parents’ best efforts to shield them from the process. Litigation can be contentious and combative; it can mean strangers making decisions that impact a child, and the details of a case are on public record.
These factors can make litigation a painful experience for children. Thus, avoiding it by resolving matters outside of court can be a crucial component of a child-centered divorce.
Prioritizing their needs
A child’s needs are the main priority in this type of divorce. Often, parents can fulfill these by examining what their child requires to feel emotionally and physically safe and happy. In some cases, parents consult a custody specialist or a child’s counselor to determine what this can mean in the context of a divorce.
Generally, some ways to prioritize your child’s needs include:
- Sharing custody equally (or as close to equally as possible);
- Living close enough to each other that a child can attend the same school and have the same friends year-round;
- Keeping your child out of any divorce-related argument;
- Making custody exchanges as smooth as possible; and
- Allowing a child to express their preference (at an age-appropriate level).
Collectively, these child-centered approaches can help parents reach decisions that benefit a child’s well-being in both the immediate and long-term future following a divorce.
*Birdnesting is a unique custody arrangement where instead of the child moving from house to house, the child stays in the home and the parents move in and out of the home, depending on whether it is their week to provide custodial care.