Considering the Well-Being of Your Children During Your Divorce

Robin M. Mermans, Esq
April 8, 2023

January is International Child-Centered Divorce Awareness Month. This annual recognition aims to raise awareness of the impact divorce can cause on children and how to prevent unnecessary emotional and psychological trauma. Each year, the awareness month becomes more popular – it’s now in its 14th year and is signified around the world.

Professional and Personal Perspective

I’m a licensed mediator and attorney based in Charlotte who focuses on divorce mediation and collaborative family law. I’m also a mother and stepmother who knows divorce all too well in my personal life and professional life. In addition to working with clients as they choose to divorce through alternative dispute resolution processes, I work through the effects of divorce at home too. My husband and I have five children under two separate parenting agreements. I have two biological children and my husband has three biological children. While we are knowledgeable about shared parenting, it still sometimes feels like we’re still trying to figure it out as we navigate new challenges and experiences. Through the past 12 years of co-parenting together, we know the long-lasting impact that divorce can have on children of all ages.

Spreading Awareness

That’s why I’m passionate about spreading awareness for International Child-Centered Divorce Month. Through my work as an attorney, I know that there is a healthier way to divorce that doesn’t cause unnecessary emotional turmoil for those involved. Often, the effects divorce causes on children goes unnoticed with traditional litigation. However, through mediation and collaborative law, the well-being and mental health of children involved is just as important as the divorce itself.

January Divorce Rates

You may be wondering why this awareness month is slated each January. Well, it has to do with when separations and divorces typically spike. As families wrap up the holiday season, many choose to research separation, divorce, and alternative dispute resolution after the new year. While many call it an opportunity for a fresh start, others say they want to delay any conflict until after the holidays.  

However, many experts say the trend broke in 2020, creating an increase in divorce as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. As states entered lockdown and travel restrictions, couples were spending more time together, whether they wanted to or not. This appeared true in recent data from Google Trends from the past 12 months. According to the Google Trends report from January 2020 to December 2020, the word “divorce” reached its search peak during the week of September 13 – 19, 2020. This data also tracks by sub-region and city, revealing that two North Carolina cities showed a lot of interest in searching the word ‘divorce’ during 2020. In fact, Raleigh ranked fifth and Charlotte ranked 11th for the most interest nationwide.

Alternative Dispute Resolution

These search trends in North Carolina prove that spouses are looking for resources on divorce. During these searches, I hope that they’re finding relevant information about all types of divorce including alternative dispute resolution methods like mediation and collaborative law. These techniques are out of court methods that utilize communication and negotiation concepts. I know firsthand that litigation often seems like the only choice. That’s why my ex-husband and I used it for our divorce many years ago. It was a time full of unnecessary conflict and stress. We weren’t the only ones who felt the impact. Our children did too.

After our divorce, I learned about mediation and was inspired to help others divorce in a better and healthier way. I became a certified divorce mediator and later earned a Juris Doctor to become a family law attorney who focuses alternative dispute resolution. Divorcing spouses and their children don’t always need to have a judge decide their case. The courtroom isn’t an environment made for children and can undoubtedly cause stress and long-term psychological pressure. Through out of court methods, spouses don’t have to step foot into a courtroom to create a separation agreement, divorce agreement, and/or shared parenting agreement.

The ROAD to RESOLUTION legal team is experienced in out-of-court settlement through collaborative and pro se mediation methods. We support a child-centered divorce process and work with clients to create a co-parenting agreement that is beneficial for both parents while maintaining a positive and productive relationship.

Collaborative Divorce

If you and your spouse choose collaborative divorce, you will each have your own collaborative-trained divorce attorney. A series of meetings take place between both spouses and their attorneys to determine a fair resolution for all involved. In a group setting, the attorneys help to guide the spouses through respectful discussion.  

In addition, the divorcing couple can utilize additional experts to help create a tailored agreement. These neutral experts may consist of additional lawyers, financial advisors, planners, coaches, and/or child specialists. If needed, mental health professionals can be brought in by either spouse to serve as an additional resource during the process.

Pro Se Mediation

A mediator can be an attorney or non-attorney. Either way, the mediator provides information throughout the process and serves as a neutral third-party while not representing either party.

As a neutral party, a mediator is ethically barred from providing legal advice and drafting the legal documents required to make the negotiated agreement between the parties legally binding. Instead, the mediator drafts what is called a mediation summary. One party then takes this summary to an attorney, who will reduce it to a legally binding document.

We’re Here to Help

ROAD to RESOLUTION supports a child-centered divorce process and work with clients to create a co-parenting agreement that is beneficial for both parents while maintaining a positive and productive relationship.

If you have any legal questions about using collaborative law or mediation to reduce emotional turmoil for your children during a divorce, please give us a call at (980) 260-1600. Our Charlotte-based team is here to help you and your family.

The ROAD to RESOLUTION Divorce Blog can help you differentiate the fact from the fiction, and guide you towards the support you need during this difficult time. Use our resources and services to find all the info you need—from pre-divorce education to drafting essential legal documents. Please contact us today to find out more about how we can help you.

Note: This blog is intended to be informational only and shall not be construed as legal advice.

Robin M. Mermans, Esq
Founder and Principal Attorney

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