Helping Your Children Transition Post-Divorce

Helping Your Children Transition Post-Divorce

Being single again can be awkward, especially if you haven?t been single since before online dating sites like Zoosk,, OurTime, and eHarmony forever changed the dating scene. When you are divorced with kids, dating can be even more difficult.

This is why a lot of divorced parents decide to stay single ? they may have little time to date, or they may want to spend their free time with their kids, or they may be afraid their children (especially teenagers) will never accept a new romantic relationship.

If you feel like your divorced parent status means you should stay single until your children turn 18 and head off to college, that doesn?t have to be the case. You don?t have to stay single until you become an empty nester. In fact, if you want a new companion, it can actually benefit you, your children, and your family life if you find the right person.

Taking it Slow is Key

If your children are under the age of five, introducing them to a new partner may not be that difficult, especially if you were their primary caregiver and the other parent was gone working a lot. But the older children get, and the more attached they are to your former spouse, the more you need to ease them into it.

The key is to take your time introducing them to a new partner; you don?t want to rush it or it can backfire. Understandably, children of divorce usually need time before they can accept someone new. If the child is heartbroken about the divorce or if they are attached to the other parent, they may be hoping that you?ll both change your minds and get back together ? this is normal.

The first thing you want to do is not introduce your child to someone new while your divorce is pending or immediately after the divorce is final. If you choose to date during this time, be discreet and don?t go out on dates when it?s your turn to have your child. Instead, only date when your child is with the other parent.

Using a Progressive Approach

Expect it to take time for your children to accept a new partner. So, don?t force your children to meet him or her if they are not ready, and don?t force that person on your other family members if you?ve only been divorced for a short time and your children?s emotions are still raw. Keep everything slow and gradual, especially as you date. Take your time to get to know your dates and don?t jump into a new relationship too soon. If you find a ?keeper? sooner than expected, explain your situation and get to know the person before you trust them around your children.

Ask questions about this person, such as do they have a criminal record? Have they ever been convicted of

domestic violence? Do they have a substance abuse problem? Have they been married before? Do they have children too? How do they manage money? Does this person share the same views about money, politics, religion, parenting, and socializing? Do they have a good work ethic? Get to know them, especially before you let them be around your children.

These questions may seem a little extreme, but when you have kids, it?s all about quality over quantity. In fact, it?s not a bad idea to do a little investigative work before dating someone to make sure they are who they say they are.

Good sites to look at are LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram. It?s also wise to do your own Google search. You never know, a little research can uncover that the person is actually married or doesn?t have the job that they say they have ? it happens all the time!

Eventually, you?ll meet someone nice who understands your divorce and your family?s needs. At that point, you can introduce them to your kids and hope the relationship lasts, but there is no guarantee. However, you?ll never know if you don?t try.

Don?t Expect a Substitute

Unless your spouse is emotionally or physically absent as a parent or abusive, your child is probably attached to him or her. What does this mean? It means you may never find a substitute for the other parent. It?s pointless to fall in love again and expect your new spouse to replace your child?s biological mother or father.

In your child?s eyes, they?ll never have a ?new Dad? or a ?new Mom? because no one will ever replace their real mother or father. However, if you decide to let your new partner move in with you, you should inform your children ahead of time.

Success depends on using a slow and progressive approach. Have your children meet your new boyfriend or girlfriend first in a casual setting. Allow them to gradually get to know each other as time passes. A good move is to invite your new partner to the beach, a family dinner out, or another recreational and ?fun? family activity. If your children can have fun with your new partner and enjoy their company, they?re more likely to accept them into the family rather than seeing them as a replacement for Mom or Dad.

As far as displays of affection, showering your new partner with a lot of hugs and kisses can make your children uncomfortable at first. It can even make it hard for them to accept him or her at all. It may be wise to explain the delicate situation to your partner and to agree on keeping the displays of affection around the kids at a minimum until the children warm up to them. Not only that, but kids usually find adults kissing disgusting, so they will appreciate the courtesy.

If you?re looking for a Los Angeles divorce attorney,

contact Claery & Hammond, LLP for help.

According to the
National Institute on Mental Health (NIMH), ?Research shows that mental illnesses are common in the United States, affecting tens of millions of people each year. Estimates suggest that only half of people with mental illness receive treatment.? The

NIMH continues, ?Nearly one in five U.S. adults lives with a mental illness (44.7 million in 2016).

With statistics like those mentioned above, it?s no wonder why mental illness plays a role in a share of divorces. Not surprisingly, a number of spouses admit that their spouse?s mental illness was a determining factor in their decision to

divorce. Or, that their own mental illness played a role in their spouse?s decision to divorce. Beyond that, a diagnosis of mental illness can have a material impact on the divorce proceeding itself.

If you are contemplating a divorce and there is a question about your mental health, or your spouse?s mental health, and how it can affect

child custody,
spousal support, and your overall
divorce settlement, we urge you to contact our firm for advice.
Before you file for divorce, you should learn more about how mental illness can impact your case.

How Mental Illness Can Impact a Divorce

When it comes to divorce proceedings, mental illness can be tricky. Since the facts vary so widely and no two cases are identical, it?s impossible to say that all cases involving mental illness will have the same outcome because that?s simply not true.

Some people have such a severe case of mental illness that they are living in another world. They can hear voices. They have hallucinations or they?re delusional. They can be suicidal or homicidal, disconnected from reality and unable to hold down a job, care for their children, or even take care of themselves. They can be emotionally volatile, violent, or suffer continuous physical symptoms like fatigue and stomachaches.

They may even be in and out of mental hospitals and if they stop taking their medication, they may go missing or spend all day in bed, unable to interact with their family and the outside world. While anxiety and depression

maynot be crippling, the following conditions can have an effect on a divorce,
but others can too:

  • Psychosis
  • Schizophrenia
  • Social phobia
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Paranoid Personality Disorder
  • Multiple Personality Disorder
  • Borderline Personality Disorder
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  • Intermittent Explosive Disorder
  • Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Sometimes, mental illness can play a role in a divorce. Often, it has a way of impacting child custody, asset division (Does the mentally ill spouse doesn?t have the cognitive ability to handle half the marital assets?), and spousal support.

If your spouse is accusing you of being mentally ill, it can stigmatize you and your children?s perspective of you as their primary caregiver. You could be a responsible, loving parent, but if your husband or wife is labelling you as mentally ill, it can affect your children?s opinion of you, especially if they?re old enough to understand the accusations or an official diagnosis.

Suddenly, you may become less in your children?s eyes. Instead of taking care of them every day, they may think they need to take care of you. They need to make you dinner. Drive you to the doctor?s office (teenagers), let you sleep in, and help you with the household chores.

If your children are already stressed by the divorce, introducing mental health issues can make an already bad situation worse. The stress can reach the boiling point, causing your children to act out, slam doors, run to their friends? houses, and have difficulty socializing at school and during extracurricular activities.

Are You Concerned About Your Spouse?

Perhaps you?re perfectly fine, but it?s your spouse your concerned about. If your spouse can?t get out of bed, or if they can?t take care of your children, or if they are disappearing for hours or days at a time, or if they are completely disconnected from reality, you may be concerned that they are incapable of caring for your children.

If your husband or wife?s mental illness is such that unsupervised parenting time is dangerous to your children, we suggest you start documenting your spouse?s condition and recording information of witnesses who have seen first-hand your spouse?s episodes. You may need to introduce this as evidence in court.

However, if your spouse?s mental illness does not pose any actual risk of harm, if he or she simply holds different values than you, it may be better to find another way to seek custody of your children. It may be easier to persuade him or her that it?s in the best interests of the children. You don?t want to play the mental illness card unless it is a very real and valid issue that needs to be addressed by the court. After all, your children love both of you and they need two loving parents in their lives.

How Mental Illness Can Affect a Divorce Settlement

A bitter spouse can swear to get even when they get to court because of their spouse?s mental illness, but more often than not they?re wrong. In fact, the spouse may get the opposite of what they anticipated. If the mentally ill spouse is a kind, loving parent and their mental illness does not get in the way of their parenting, the court could order the healthy spouse to pay spousal support and child support, and they may not award the healthy spouse primary custody.

When should mental illness be a concern in a divorce?
  • When it interferes with a spouse?s parenting ability.
  • When there is a high risk of
    spousal or child abuse.
  • When the children are at a risk of being neglected.
  • When the mentally ill spouse will seek spousal support because of their
    mental illness.

Can Antidepressants Affect Child Custody in a Divorce?

If mental illness is an issue in your divorce, we urge you to
contact our firm to meet with a Los Angeles divorce attorney for free. You should know how mental illness can impact your divorce proceedings.

Request A Consultation

Fields Marked With An “*” Are Required

"*" indicates required fields

I Have Read The Disclaimer **
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.