There are plenty of couples who divorce in the later years, long after their children are grown and gone. Some of them would have divorced earlier. Yet they chose to stay together for the sake of their children. Staying together may have been the best thing they could have done given the fact that divorcing only makes parenting more complicated.
Couples sometimes view divorce as the best option after being legally separated for a time. While separated, they fight less. This leads them to assume they are better off apart rather than getting back together. Whether or not that’s true is another topic for another post. In the meantime, the fact that they fight less does not change the fact that things will get a lot more complicated after their divorce.
Settling Custody Issues
The first thing that comes to mind here is dealing with custody. With whom will the divorcing couple’s children live? Will one parent have total decision-making authority, or will they share that authority? What will they do about visitation? When it comes to custody issues, there are often more questions than there are answers.
Courts ultimately decide custody issues even if they merely sign off on negotiated agreements between parents. But a court order does not address all the finer details of custody. It doesn’t address the fact that mom and dad have to make snarky comments whenever children are picked up or dropped off. It doesn’t address the fact that there are different rules at dad’s house compared to those at mom’s.
Issues at School
Kids can have problems at school whether their parents stay together or divorce. In a divorce situation however, addressing those problems becomes more of a challenge. Perhaps one parent is more involved than the other. Maybe both are equally involved but have different views as to how to approach the problem at hand. Teachers can be left scratching their heads because parents will not present a united front.
Both mom and dad might enter new relationships after the divorce. That leaves kids in a precarious position. They now have to relate with two adults who cannot see eye to eye – as well as their parents’ new love interests. If both parents decide to remarry, there are now stepparents to consider.
The stepparents are put in a bad situation, too. They want to maintain order in their homes, but they do not want to overstep their boundaries. How do they deal with unruly stepchildren? If they bring their own natural children into the blended family, should they treat them any differently?
Even without all those practical, day-to-day issues presenting themselves, parenting is more complicated when it comes to life changes. Consider a case mentioned by ABM Family Law, a Chicago family law firm, in a blog post in 2020. The case involved a divorced mother who wanted to relocate from Illinois to Indiana.
Illinois law limits relocation in situations where a divorced mother and father share custody. This particular case revolved around the mother’s claims that she could no longer afford to live in Illinois. The court ultimately disagreed with her and forced her to stay put. Yet she and her former husband could have moved together had they stayed married.
There are some situations in which couples just cannot seem to stay together no matter what. But it would be interesting to know how many could make it work for the sake of their children but still choose not to. It is all quite unfortunate. In the end, the ones who suffer most are the kids. That much never changes.