Child-Centered Divorce

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Child-Centered Divorce Information

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Child-centered divorce refers to a scenario where two parents who are getting a divorce decide to frame their divorce around their child’s best interests. Child-centered divorce is a recommended framework that is designed to reduce the negative impact of divorce on children, and to create a basis on which the divorced parents can continue to raise their child in a healthy manner.

What Are the Negative Effects of Divorce on Children?

Studies have shown that divorce can have many negative impacts on children. Statistically, children whose parents have divorced:

  • Get lower grades than children with non-divorced parents
  • Have higher dropout rates than children with non-divorced parents
  • Have higher rates of teen smoking and drinking than children with non-divorced parents
  • Have fewer friends than  children with non-divorced parents
  • Report lower self-esteem than children with non-divorced parents
  • Have higher rates of divorce during adulthood than children with non-divorced parents

The negative effects on children with divorced parents can be prevented when parents engage in a child-centered divorce framework, which places a high emphasis on helping children adjust and cope with their parent’s divorce through healthy, engaged parenting from both divorced parties.

Common Divorce Issues that a Child-Centered Framework Can Address

There are many common issues that come up after a divorce which can be more effectively addressed through a child-centered approach. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Custodial parent relocating to a new area outside of a reasonable distance from the non-custodial parent
  • One parent not showing up to children’s events (such as school plays, concerts, awards, etc) due to the presence of the other parent
  • Parental alienation, where one or more parent denigrates the other parent to the child
  • Visible conflict and stress between parents leading to children feeling guilty or stressed themselves

How Parents Can Address Common Divorce Issues Through a Child-Centered Divorce Framework

The best way to handle the above common divorce issues is through a child-centered divorce plan. The parenting plan should, above all, ensure that both parents are doing what is best for the child at all times.

Parents must ensure that they refer to their child-centered plan during any conflicts that may arise.

An Example of a Child-Centered Approach

Mary is the custodial parent of Karen, a teenager daughter she had with her ex, John. John currently lives 20 minutes away from Mary and Karen, and can easily pick up Karen during his custody as well as attend her school events and dance recitals. Mary is considering a job offer that would require her to move 3 hours away.

A non-child centred approach: Mary decides to take the job because she has primary custody and can do so if she feels like it. John decides to fight the move in court. This creates a high-conflict scenario that will require Karen to testify to a judge, resulting in emotional upset.

A child-centered approach: Mary discusses the possibility of moving with John. She lays out the reasons why she wants to take the job and move. John expresses his concerns, including the difficulty of seeing Karen, and the inability to readily attend any of her school events. Mary concludes that the job offer is not essential due to her finances, and offers to not move more than 25 minutes away until Karen has turned 18 unless she cannot get by financially, at which point she will bring up the possibility of moving farther away again. John accepts this offer.

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