How to Divorce Without Damaging Your Kids

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To start, this article is going to begin with some bad news regarding how divorce can be damaging to your children. However, the good news is that knowledge is power and that you can proactively take steps to learn about what you can do to minimize the damages. Read below for steps you can take to minimize the negative effects of divorce on children.

The Bad News – How Divorce Can Damage your Children

Social science and psychological literature links divorce with being an Adverse Child Experience (ACE). [1]
The CDC-Kaiser Permanente ACE study is the pivotal study that shows that people who have had 4 or more ACE’s have a huge risk of adult-onset of chronic physical health and mental health disorders, such as heart disease, COPD, cancer, diabetes, addiction and suicide.
Divorce can introduce stressors to a child which may cause intense feelings of uncertainty, and chronic stress from anger, bitterness and fighting between parents. It might change a child’s interaction with parents, grandparents or others who were previously a loving and stable influence in the child’s world. Some children may adapt better to these changes than others. There is solid science that indicates the impact of chronic stress on the child’s brain produces permanent changes to the child’s developing brain. [2]

The Good News – Steps to Take to Minimize the Damage your Divorce may have on your Children

Parenting After Separation Course (PAS Course):

You can educate yourself regarding what is potentially damaging for your child during a divorce and reach out to various educational materials, resources and/or appropriate professionals. This will assist you in addressing what you can do to minimize the damage that your divorce may have on your children. A good place to start becoming informed is by taking the Parenting After Separation Course (“PAS course”) which is a free online course that is offered by the Alberta Government. It takes approximately 3 hours to complete. [3] If you have minor children, the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta will require that you take the course and provide them with a PAS Certificate of Completion along with the documents requesting your divorce. (There are some limited exceptions to this mandatory requirement including but not limited to if your children are over the age of 16.)

Understand Common Misconceptions during a Divorce:

Every family is unique and a parenting plan that may be appropriate for one family, may not be appropriate for another family. Your situation needs to be assessed.

I am going to comment on one common misconception I see couples make. I work with clients who along with their ex-spouses are capable of reaching a separation agreement and parenting plan without having a judge make the decisions for them.

Developing a Parenting Plan:

Often times, a client will advise me at the initial consultation – “we are amicable and therefore we are going to have the children 50-50 – one week on one week off.” When I ask the client what information they and their spouse have obtained and considered in coming up with this plan, they often have a blank look on their faces. It has occurred to me that there is not widespread general public knowledge regarding the social science of parenting plans. A 50 – 50 one week on one week off parenting plan can work for some children, but for others, it can be harmful. There is an abundance of information related to parenting plans that include social science studies and research. These resources educate and inform parents prior to structuring a parenting plan. The PAS course is a good place for you to start to be informed.

Book a Consultation with McNeill Family Law:

If you book a consultation with me after you have taken the PAS course, you will have some basic information that we can discuss during your consultation. However, if you are feeling overwhelmed and are not ready to take the PAS course, you should book your consultation with me sooner, rather than later. I will provide you with some guidance about parenting plans and how they fit into the legal concepts that will affect your separation.




Achieve a Fair, Respectful, Sensible Divorce.

Book a consultation with McNeill Family Law to get professional advice and guidance throughout your divorce. 

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