Have you ever looked up in life and asked yourself, “How did I get here? How did things get so messed up?”
Many who find themselves asking these question are facing family break-ups. Whether you are the one that initiates the break-up or not, at some point both parties experience the “this is not what I signed up for moment.” The question then turns from, "How did I get here" to, “now what?”
When you have children, this question is extremely important. How you answer this will truly effect your children for the rest of their lives.
As a chaplain in the Family Courts of Tarrant County for over 15 years here are a few tips I have collected over the years for those that find themselves in the middle of a family break up.
Tip 1. Do not trust your emotions.
When an individual experiences a life changing event such as a family break up, emotions will run wild. Basing life choices on emotions will unavoidably lead to destructive outcomes. Avoid making snap decisions. Often situations will come up where you feel like you have to make a decision on a whim. Rarely is it true that a decision is required immediately. Give yourself time to look at your options and get proper counsel. Be sure to use all of the tools available to you when making choices that affect you and your children.
Tip 2. Build a support system.
When going through a family break up, you and your children’s world has changed. Often you have to move, your friends have been polarized, and your world has becomes seemingly so different. The temptation will be to isolate and go through it on your own, thinking “I don’t want to bother my friends and family.” Wrong! Be intentional about building a healthy support system. Chances are, the people in your life want to support you through this difficult time. Find a divorce recovery group, reach out to professionals, and access social service providers. You are not alone and there are people out there who want to help.
Tip 3. Understand the purpose of the court system.
The Family Courts are not designed to punish. The Family Courts are designed to create orders that govern the family during a family break up and enforce orders by providing consequences when orders are not followed. This is a slow, cumbersome, and often expensive process. The Family Courts employ a social worker to conduct family studies designed to provide information to the judge. Because the court system is designed as an adversarial system, parties are often exposed to hearings or trails that bring up uncomfortable information about the inner workings of your once private family business. Neither of the individuals involved in the family break up emerges without mud on them, making Co-Parenting their child even more difficult. The children become the victims because their parents often make it about winning and losing instead of prioritizing the well-being of the child. This results in damage to the children’s emotional and physical health.
Damage to children can be minimized if parents will refrain from making emotional decisions, build and healthy support systems, and work to minimize the court room litigation by working to resolve issues through mediation or counseling.
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