Good co-parenting can minimize the emotional stress on children

It is well established that divorce can be stressful and traumatic for children and can lead to short-term behavioral and psychological issues.

U.S. News and World Report recently reported on a study published in BMJ Open which suggests that there may be a link between divorce and childhood obesity. Boys are especially prone to excess weight gain in the aftermath of a divorce. In commenting on the study, a Miami Children’s Hospital psychologist said that after a divorce a child can turn to maladaptive behaviors for coping which might include “emotional eating” caused by stress or anger. Boys can be under extra stress if living with their mother since they may feel the need to take on the role of “man in the house.” The psychologist added that it is important for the child’s well-being that a normal routine be maintained both during and after a divorce.

Without question divorce is stressful for children. A publication available on the Colorado Judicial Branch website called “Connecting With Your Kids” observes that “a child needs the love of both parents.” It is recognized that children often undergo emotional stress as a result of a separation or divorce. This can manifest itself in behavioral problems. In an article published in the University of Denver Magazine it is noted that post-divorce children who receive consistent emotional support have “fewer behavioral and psychological issues.”

Fortunately, children of divorce often bounce back well following a divorce. According to Scientific American magazine, a University of Virginia study suggests that only a small percentage of children experience truly serious problems in the wake of a divorce. Not surprisingly, the study found that many post-divorce children did suffer short-term negative effects from a divorce ranging from anxiety and anger to shock and disbelief.

The good news is that the negative emotional reactions of children to a divorce diminish by the end of the second year with only a minority of children suffering longer from post-divorce emotional problems. The majority of post-divorce children are ultimately as well adjusted as children of parents who never divorced. Not surprisingly, certain types of children adapt to post-divorce life better than others. For example, children with an easygoing temperament or who are good problem solvers tend to be “more resilient” in the aftermath of a divorce than other children.

Crafting a parenting plan

Colorado law recognizes that co-parenting following a divorce, while certainly not appropriate in all circumstances, is highly encouraged since it is in the best interests of children to have meaningful contact with both parents. Indeed, according to the author of Connecting with Your Kids, good co-parenting is necessary for the emotional and developmental needs of post-divorce children. Parents are urged to cooperate with each other in order to share the rights, duties and responsibility of child-rearing. A parenting plan should be crafted so that it specifies each parent’s duties regarding the care and nurture of the child as well as the amount of time each parent will spend with the child.

If parents can work together to reach an amicable agreement on a parenting plan which will fairly allocate parental responsibilities, this is the ideal. If they cannot, Colorado law mandates that a court will make child custody decisions based on what it deems to be the best interests of the child.

Seek legal help

If you are a parent who is contemplating a divorce, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible. While custody can become contentious, a Colorado attorney experienced at handling custody issues can negotiate with your spouse’s attorney in order to try to reach a parenting time agreement that is acceptable to everyone.

Keywords: divorce, child custody