Innocent Victims of A Litigious Divorce – The Children

During a divorce, the silent victims are the children.  Even when the split is amicable, children still suffer anxiety and sadness as their lives change.  In especially contested cases, the divorce may leave scars on children that linger well into adulthood and shape the way they view relationships.

When custody or visitation is contested, the courts will often appoint a Guardian ad Litem to conduct an investigation and report findings to the court.  The guardian will discuss the children’s relationships with their parents, and may meet with them several times to assess their needs.  Speaking to a stranger can be scary for children, and many are fearful that they will get their parents into trouble if they say the wrong thing.

Additionally, many parents make the mistake of putting their children in the middle during a divorce.  Although it is understandable that the parents are hurt and angry, badmouthing a parent in front of children is damaging.  Each parent should only say positive things about the other parent, and the parents should never communicate through their children.

In especially contested cases, the parents are often hostile toward one another.  Children are very receptive to negative emotions, and these exchanges can haunt a child for years.  Although every divorce means that the children will have to spend time with both parents, in some cases, the parents cannot even exchange the children without a fight.  The uprooting of the child’s routine is already stressful, and the parents’ arguments only make things worse.