Unhappy Married Couple Standing by a DoorDivorce is rarely easy, even when it is a matter of practical necessity. When children are involved, the decision to separate could seem all the more difficult. While every family is different, and every parent must make their own choice, divorce can sometimes provide long-term benefits for children who risk growing up in abusive, violent, or otherwise unstable households.

The Benefits of Avoiding Divorce

Divorce rates peaked between the 1980s and early 1990s. Parents who grew up in or around broken households know all too well the toll that divorce can take on young children.

Some studies show that the children of divorced parents face significant struggles later in life. These struggles could impact a child’s long-term:

  • Educational attainment
  • Career stability
  • Earning potential

When parents remain civil and work together for their children’s sake, divorce does not have to be an inevitability. However, parenting always requires sacrifice—and when sacrifice entails a risk to one spouse’s safety or their children’s well-being, co-parenting and couples counseling may not be an option.

The Risks of Staying Together

While separation can impact families in a wide variety of ways, divorce is not always avoidable. Children who are raised in households beset by conflict, anger, and frustration can easily pick up bad habits—bad habits that they could inadvertently carry forward into their own adult relationships.

When a troubled marriage involves physical abuse, mental abuse, or frequent conflict, children could have trouble:

  • Developing positive self-esteem
  • Building and maintaining healthy relationships
  • Managing their emotions

Since divorce and avoidance both have distinct downsides, parents must typically analyze the characteristics of their spousal relationship before making a big decision.

What to Ask Yourself When Considering a Divorce

Parents will often do everything possible to protect their children from hardship, even when it entails great personal sacrifice. However, nobody—children and parents alike—deserves to live in turmoil.

Before making a decision, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Am I, or my children, being abused? Children should never be kept in a situation where they are exposed to physical, sexual, or emotional abuse.
  • Is my spouse cooperative? Some parents come to a mutual understanding: while they might eventually separate, they delay divorce until their children have graduated high school or gone off to college. However, delaying divorce is only a tenable option when both spouses have the requisite patience and understanding to put differences aside for the sake of their children. 
  • Can we salvage our marriage? New York is one of several states that has no mandatory “waiting time” for divorce proceedings. Nevertheless, most relationship experts advise that parents exhaust all their options—from couples counseling to family interventions—before taking the final step to end the marriage. If these options have already been exhausted, staying together could cause more problems than it solves.

Protecting Your Children During a New York Divorce

When divorce is unavoidable, most parents proactively strive to limit the impact. You could help protect your children’s mental health by taking the following steps:

  • Minimize your children’s exposure to conflict by having conversations about divorce, child support, and alimony in private.
  • Speak positively about the other spouse whenever possible, especially if and when the marriage failed as a result of mutual incompatibility rather than abuse.
  • Talk to your children about the divorce, ensuring that they understand it is not their fault and that they will continue to receive unconditional love and support from both their parents.
  • Contact an experienced Brooklyn divorce attorney to ensure that your child’s best interests are respected by the other parent and protected by a court of law.