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Would a child deal better with constantly fighting or divorced parents?

“Do you think a child would deal better with constantly fighting parents or divorced parents?” I have been asked to answer this question, but as a divorce lawyer (not someone who is divorced himself), I did not want to answer it without also getting the input of divorced parents.

I put the question out on Facebook and between me those divorced parents, here are our various answers.

One parent noted:

“I think it’d be situational. Totally situational. If, for example, one of the parents has borderline personality disorder or narcissistic personality disorder and would alienate the children post-divorce, it’s better to stay married.

If, however, for example, the parents are both otherwise reasonable people who just can’t get along with each other, but can set their differences aside and put their kids first post-divorce, then a divorce might be a better option after other options have failed (such as counseling, etc.).

The problem when dealing with a borderline or narcissist: the reasonable/targeted parent often doesn’t know who they’re really dealing with until it’s too late.”

Another parent saw it this way:

“The kids are better off if their parents get divorced. If a parent is staying together for the kids, the marriage will end up failing anyway, and then the kids will just say that you were a spineless coward. Another reason is staying just prolongs pain. Life goes fast. No sense wasting any minute in suffering.”

The third parent stated:

“Short term, yes. In my situation, my older son was relieved when his mother left and specifically noted how peaceful our home felt without her there. But my younger son, who was barely 3, was affected in ways that still cause problems for him 10 years. That being said, I think it’s a little bit of a copout for a couple (barring repeated infidelity or actual abuse) to use this as an excuse not to grow the hell up and go through whatever work it takes to make the marriage they chose to enter into work and provide a stable, loving home for the children they chose to create.

When my ex and I were dating, she specially noted how hard it was when her parents divorced, and the struggles she went through because of it. But once she started feeling like she wanted out, she often mentioned how ‘happy’ she was once her parents divorced and her dad was out of the picture. It was night and day, so I am biased in feeling like that particular line of thinking can be an excuse, rather than a legitimate reason.”

Finally, here is my two cents’ worth:

I would not wish a divorce on my worst enemy. With extraordinarily rare exception, divorce is miserable for every member of the family, especially the children.

More than one person has told me that if he or she had known what divorce would do them and to their kids they might have stayed married or at least tried everything humanly possible to make the marriage work before getting a divorce.

Clearly, you don’t need to worry about trying to “save” a marriage in which there is serious physical violence. Yes, I said serious physical violence against you or the children. If, however, you want to claim you’re a domestic violence victim because your spouse pushed you of the way to get out the bedroom door you were blocking, you’re not abused, you’re a bit of a jerk and a bit of a wuss. Rather than pouring your energy into claiming victim status, work on yourself and work on your marriage.

Marriage is hard work. Even for two normal, loving, peaceful people, marriage is hard. And still worth it, if you do the work required to make your marriage a good one. If you’ve given all you can but your spouse won’t meet you half way, you will not regret giving your marriage every last reasonable effort and chance before you file for divorce. A clear conscience helps ensure clear judgment when you make the choice to divorce.

Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277

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