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Should your children have a say during your divorce?

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Divorce doesn't just impact you and your spouse. Your children's lives are changing as well. Should they be able to tell you what they want as you figure out a parenting plan and get a child custody agreement in place, or should you just do what you think is best for them? 

The age of your children plays into this heavily. A five-year-old child probably won't have much say in the planning; he or she can't grasp the situation properly, so it's up to you as a parent to find the best solution. A 16-year-old child, on the other hand, may have a strong voice. He or she is nearly an adult, is probably fairly independent and will feel more respected when asked for his or her input into the post-divorce arrangement.

Maturity also has to be considered. Regardless of age, you need to decide if your child is mature enough to offer wise, useful input.

Try to keep an eye on how the children handle the news of the divorce. Some kids take it very hard and struggle just to get their minds around what is happening. They may need more support from you and it could be more stressful for them to be involved. Other kids deal with the change well and benefit from being able to have a say in their future. Their input could be more valuable if they're able to think about it from an adult perspective.

As a parent, remember how the divorce will change your children's lives. Do what you can to make this easier on the kids. Make sure you know everything you can about your rights and theirs during this process.

Source: Psychology Today, "Should Kids Have a Voice in Post-Divorce Planning?," Arnie Swarz, accessed April 07, 2017

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