For many people going through a divorce, a main concern is how the divorce process is how it will affect their children. Living arrangements, child support and parenting time are complicated topics and each influences a child's reaction to the change in his or her family unit. Other issues, like the child's personality, age, relationships with each parent and his/her siblings and the unique circumstances of the divorce will play a significant role.
When determining the initial allocation of parental responsibilities in Colorado, the Court is guided by the best interests of the child legal standard. It is a universal family law concept where post-divorce life is dependent on how the settlement and parenting time arrangements will influence children's health, development and overall well-being. This includes both financial and emotional concerns.
What is co-parenting?
Unless the divorce involves issues of personal safety, shared allocation of parental responsibility is the preferred arrangement for families in Colorado. With shared allocation, both parents may spend roughly equal quality parenting time with their children and both parents are involved in making decisions that affect the lives of their children. When the now-divorced parents share responsibilities after a divorce, it's referred to as co-parenting. While it may not be appropriate for infants or toddlers to move back and forth between two homes, older children often will spend roughly equal time provided that both parents are competent, committed and available.
Shared decision-making between two divorced parents often means that the parents must have an ability to cooperate and communicate about medical, dental, mental health issues as well as scheduling of activities. They also must be able to agree on educational plans or child care plans for the children. If communications issues were a contributing factor in the decision to divorce, the parents must still learn to communicate about important decisions for the children.
Mental wellness website HealthGuide has compiled a useful article for co-parents that discuss the challenges of working together after divorce, noting that it's important for the parents to put differences aside and focus on the greater good. Research shows that stability and security are driving forces in how children respond to divorce.
- A sense of security - By maintaining access to both parents, children feel loved and more confident in their relationships.
- Consistency - When both parents work together it allows children to know what to expect, no matter which parent is present at a given moment.
- Lessons in problem solving - Children learn by example. When divorced parents are willing to overcome obstacles it carries to their children.
- Leading by example - As the previous item notes, co-parenting promotes strong relationships and resiliency.
- Better mental and emotional health - Studies continue to support that children exposed to high levels of conflict and stress suffer from both mental and physical issues throughout their lives.
The best interests of parents and children
Divorce is hard on parents - few couples choose divorce if there hasn't been some level of conflict leading up to the decision. Losing a partner is a significant life change and the legal process, financial changes and emotional ups and downs take a toll. Children learn from their parents' example. By overcoming differences to work through an amicable divorce, parents promote healthy behavior to their children.
An experienced divorce attorney will look at your individual situation when working on your case, finding a solution that fits your needs. There is no question that divorce will mean big changes for your family, but it is possible to minimize the stress and push through the challenge with a brighter future ahead of you.