Is it ever a good idea to postpone a divorce for the ‘children’s sake’?



Always? No.

(and remember: though I’m a divorce lawyer, that does not mean I am a raving fan of divorce. I’m not. Rarely does even the “best divorce” measure up to a “sufficient marriage”)

While it is clearly not always a good idea to postpone divorce for the sake of the kids (indeed, sometimes—sometimes—you may need to expedite divorce for the sake of the kids), there are times when, depending upon the particular family and its particular circumstances, postponing divorce is a compassionate and selfless sacrifice a parent or good parents make for the benefit of their children.

It is a popular notion these days that children are happiest when their unhappily married parents divorce. While this may be true for some children, it is not true for all children.

The test is simple to understand, even if hard to accept: you brought these innocent, dependent children into the world. You are morally obligated to place their welfare ahead of yours. If A) you do not need to divorce for the sake of protecting yourself from serious harm, and B) divorcing now will do your little children more harm than good, you owe it to your children to sacrifice your comfort and convenience for their sake.

If you will excuse me, I would like to switch gears at this point. I know that some of my opinions may not be for everyone, but for those they can help, I offer them:

Some spouses are monsters or toxic, and when that’s the case, clearly you are not only justified in seeking a divorce, you may be morally obligated, for the sake of your and your children’s psychological and/or physical safety, to divorce.

Frankly, however, far, far too many marriages that could be good marriages end in divorce.

Too many parents divorce when the problem isn’t the marriage or the other spouse, it’s the failure of one or both spouse(s) to recognize and accept the facts that 1) my marriage is bigger and more important than “me”; and 2) (and this is connected with point #1) when, and only when, a husband and wife take loving care of their marriage, it will take loving care of them.

Many couples and families can and should be happy, but for lacking the essential tools and direction all happy families need. And they lack these tools and direction not because they are in short supply, but because they don’t know where to find them and/or don’t care to seek them. If you have looked for marriage help everywhere but in the church, it’s time to give church and God a chance. You owe it to yourself and your spouse and your family to try it. You’ll kick yourself if you don’t at least give God a losing chance. My wife and I would have made a mess of our marriage and family long ago without His help.

We live in a disposable culture, and marriage has been caught up in it. While this well-worn story may seem trite to some, spouses and parents and families would be wise to heed its simple—yet crucial—advice: A reporter interviewing a couple who just celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary asked them, “How did you manage to say together for sixty-five years?” The wife replied, “We married in a time when if something was broken we would fix it, not throw it away.”

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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