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Mediating your divorce may be best for your children

If you are contemplating filing for divorce from your spouse, you should consider how this could potentially affect your children. Kids of all ages are affected by their parents divorces — even adult children.

Knowing what you may face if you litigate your divorce, you may instead choose a collaborative divorce process. Below are some factors you should weigh when making the decision on how to proceed.

Your children's gender

Do you know that divorce affects boys and girls differently? Boys may be more prone to depression, whereas girls have a higher likelihood of developing severe behavioral problems.

The ages of the children

Toddlers and preschoolers can experience profound negative effects, including clinging, whining and exhibiting regressive behaviors. Kids in the first few primary grades can suffer from loss of appetite and appear to lose interest in their playmates during a divorce.

Older kids and teens can act out and their grades may suffer. Older teens may begin to experiment with drugs or alcohol.

It helps if your older children have another emotional support system they can turn to during these intense times. This could be a professional counselor, the school guidance counselor or an older friend or relative to which they can confide their feelings and frustrations. Even their peers can be an effective sounding board when necessary.

Parents can lessen their children's burden during divorce by being open about the split. In an age-appropriate manner, have both parents explain the situation to the kids.

It's also vital for both parents to remain involved in their children's lives during the pendency of the proceedings. Keeping up with family rituals and routines as much as possible is also a good idea, as kids thrive on security and stability.

Deciding to mediate your divorce can end contentious battles over custody and other matters. It also allows parents to keep their personal matters private and out of the public record.

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