When it comes to unhappy marriages, countless couples have stayed together “for the sake of the kids” and shortly after their youngest celebrated their eighteenth birthday and headed off to college, the parents filed for divorce. While many parents think that this is the right thing to do, the selfless thing to do, it may not be better for the kids at all.
Let’s face the facts: Not all parents stay married because it’s in the children’s best interests. Instead, they stay married because of the following reasons: 1) they can’t imagine not seeing their kids every day, 2) they don’t want another man or woman to marry their spouse and raise their kids, 3) they don’t want to pay child support, 4) they are afraid of their spouse alienating the children from them when they’re not around. In many cases, parents hold off on the divorce because of numbers 1 and 4 above.
In reality though, there are many situations where the children would be better off if their parents decided to go their separate ways instead of staying together for the sake of the kids. Now we know that a lot of experts talk about how divorce is bad for children, and how it affects their grades, their happiness, and their faith in the institution of marriage, but that doesn’t change the fact that for many children, divorce is a welcome transition in their lives and it’s actually in their best interests.
Divorce is Better for Kids Than a Bad Marriage
The “experts” may be shaking their heads and pointing their fingers at us, but they must understand that in volatile marriages, divorce is generally better for kids than a bad marriage, hands down. How do we know this? Not only are we divorce attorneys who have represented hundreds of spouses in their divorce proceedings, but we’ve helped parents create Parenting Plans, and we’ve represented clients as they modified their child custody orders. We’ve seen firsthand how our clients’ children have handled the divorce before, during and even years after the proceedings. In effect, we’ve arrived at the conclusion that a good divorce is far better for children than a bad marriage.
While much of the existing research shows that divorce can definitely impact children, it fails to take into account how children are affected by living with parents who are locked in a volatile, tumultuous marriage. It fails to consider the emotionally damaging effects of living in a home filled with constant arguing, nonstop resentment, verbal abuse, and sometimes controlling behaviors and physical violence. Children should never have to endure verbal or physical abuse until they are 18.
In the event of a bad marriage that takes an emotional toll on the children, a divorce frees all parties involved, and provides the following benefits to children:
1. Peace and calm at last. When parents are constantly arguing, it affects the children whether the parents realize it or not, and NOT in a good way. When volatile couples divorce, it offers their children peace and calm at last. Instead of coming home to an upsetting, stress-filled environment, kids can come home to a quiet, peaceful home where they can do what they do best – be kids.
2. Two happy homes. Instead of living in one miserable home where they have to blast their music or put on their headphones to drown out their parents’ arguments, children can live in two happy homes. Their parents’ separate homes may be smaller than their childhood home, but they’ll be filled with love, not hate. This is the time when children need a safe and loving environment more than more square feet and high-end furniture.
3. Mom and Dad are finally happy. It does not do a child any good to see Mom crying on her bed or to see Dad sleeping on the couch night-after-night or sleeping at a friend’s house. Children, including teens, are very sensitive to their parents’ emotions and even in the absence of shouting, they can sense when something is wrong with their parents’ relationship and it hurts them.
When Mom and Dad file for divorce and experience happiness at last, it makes their kids happy. When parents are happy, they are under less stress and they parent better. The energy is higher and more positive and it affects the children’s moods accordingly. Whether parents’ moods are negative or positive, children can tell the difference. There’s no doubt that your happiness will rub off on your children, which is why it’s better to be happy rather than chained to a hate-filled marriage.
4. Kids learn about personal happiness. Have you ever looked at a bad marriage and wondered why on Earth the couple stayed married? People may be thinking the same thing about you. When you end a bad marriage, you’re teaching your children that happiness is important and that if something is destructive and unhealthy, it should be ended.
Imagine if you had a daughter who moved in with an abusive man. Wouldn’t you want her to leave him? Surely, you would not want her to stay and endure the abuse. When you say “Enough is enough!” in a bad marriage, you’re modeling healthy behavior for your children, showing them that it’s wrong to stay in destructive relationships.
Are you contemplating filing for divorce? If so, contact Claery & Hammond, LLP to schedule a free consultation with a Los Angeles divorce lawyer.