California parents who are thinking about seeking a divorce are sometimes reluctant to act because they worry about the effect that the process could have on their young children. Even the best of intentions are sometimes not enough to prevent custody and visitation disputes erupting into contentious legal battles, and mainstream media accounts frequently blame all manner of social ills on single-parent homes and the breakdown of traditional family values.
These influences can make it difficult for unhappy spouses to take action, but staying in an unfulfilling relationship for the sake of the kids may actually do more harm than good. Even young children are far more perceptive than most adults believe, and kids living in a state of constant tension often develop anxieties, fears and doubts that can take root and persist well into adulthood. These problems can be even more pronounced among the children of couples who have separated but not formally divorced. Kids in this situation live in a kind of nether world where life goes on but nothing ever really changes.
As with many life issues, the most productive strategy may be to tackle problems quickly and decisively. Parents who have come to the conclusion that their relationship is beyond saving may be surprised to find that their children were aware of their marital problems and are thankful that action is being taken. Parents who announce that they are getting divorced also protect their children from the pain that usually accompanies the dashing of false hopes.
Experienced family law attorneys may understand that little is gained when divorcing parents become embroiled in bitter child custody and visitation disputes, and they could suggest more productive approaches than adversarial court actions. Divorce mediation may work well in these situations as parents generally want what is best for their children, and they may be able to find common ground more readily outside of the courtroom.