Divorcing Parents Need To Know That Divorce Changes Their Relationship To One Another;
Divorce Does Not End It
Guest Author, Anne Kass, - a retired District Judge of Albuquerque, New Mexico
One of the most common remarks I hear divorcing parents say is, "I just want this to be over."
In truth, for two people who have children, it's never over.
Divorce in families with children is a process, not an event.
There is the legal divorce. The property is valued and divided, the debts are allocated between husband and wife, a custody plan is developed, and support is established. All of this is written down in a document called a "final decree," which people expect to live up to its name--to be FINAL.
However, very often the property division written in the final decree requires that something (often the family home) be sold, which is easier said than done.
This makes is necessary for the couple to continue to cooperate to obtain the most advantageous sale possible. And, while the sale is pending, cooperation is necessary to make sure the property is maintained and the mortgage is paid.
The custody plan written in the final decree will need to be adjusted from time to time as the parents' and the children's lives change. The support will also need to be adjusted over time as the parents' incomes and the children's need change.
As another part of the divorce process, parents and children must learn new and different ways to interact with one another. Divorced parents often seem surprised to learn that they must continue to keep one another informed of decisions they make.
Often they must reach agreements before changes can be carried out, such as a change in residence or even a change in employment.
The point is that every major change that one divorced parent makes has an impact on the lives of the former spouse and their children. This requires ongoing interaction and communication.
It seems to be a major source of aggravation to divorced parents to have to check with their former spouse before they make a decision. They will have fantasized that once the divorce is final, what each does is no longer the other's business.
Not so. If one parent makes a major change in his or her life without first addressing it with the other parent, they may find themselves back in court litigating the aftermath of the unilateral change.
Even after the children have grown up there is interaction--graduations, weddings and births of grandchildren.
Divorcing parents who expect that when a judge signs that piece of paper called a "final decree of divorce," they will be out of one another's hair, are sure to be disappointed and often rudely enlightened in the form of post-divorce litigation.
Divorcing parents need to know that divorce changed their relationship to one another; divorce does not end it.
People who have children together are connected to each other forever. The goal should be to make that lifelong connection as peaceful and civilized as possible.
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