In case you’ve been hiding under a rock for the last few weeks, the latest big celebrity news concerns Angelina Jolie’s application for divorce from Brad Pitt, citing ‘irreconcilable differences’ (grounds for divorce that we don’t currently have in the UK, but which would probably be categorised under ‘unreasonable behaviour‘). Understandably, the couple are trying to keep their affairs as private as possible amid mass speculation, cynicism and much unpleasantly gleeful wagon-jumping on reporting the news. We’re not going to add to that, although there’s one aspect of the news that we thought was worth exploring – a comment made by Jolie regarding the separation, saying that she had made the decision ‘for the health of [their] family’. This, it seems to us, is a very worthwhile intention that rings true with many of the separating parents we work with, and one well worth discussing.
Whatever the situation, if a couple finds their relationship is irretrievable and choose to separate, making that decision for the well-being of their family is surely an honourable and thoughtful way to approach to divorce. A good starting point, at least, to move forward to a more positive future.
As a couple, as parents, and as a team, sometimes things just become too difficult. Sometimes things need to change. It doesn’t mean you’ve failed. It means you’ve tried your best and now you’re going to try a different way. Single parenting is not lesser. Yes, of course there are stresses and difficulties involved in divorcing when you have children, but there are also positives to look for, too:
Happy parents = happy children
If your family has been living under an atmosphere of animosity and resentment, the simple act of making a decision to change your situation can be an enormous relief, and greatly reduce the stress in your household. Children are highly sensitive to the emotions of adults around them, even if they don’t quite understand what’s going on, and staying together ‘for the children’ may result in angry, upset, frustrated parents under huge emotional strain. In fact, a recent poll by family law organisation Resolution revealed that many children would rather their parents were ‘happy apart than happy together’.
Knowing that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel – your own space, a new start, and an end to the arguments or bad feeling between you and your ex – can make a massive difference to your own well-being as well as your children’s. We all parent better when we’re not under stress.
Creating a positive role model for healthy relationships
Staying in a broken relationship can be extremely damaging to your self-esteem, your relationships with others, and the example you set for your children. Seeing their parents as independent people with autonomy, who take responsibility for their own happiness, will help children to grow up with self-respect and a healthy approach to their own emotional needs. This will not only affect the way they perceive themselves but also how they treat and interact with others, impacting on all their future relationships.
Better quality time spent with children
Although divorce may result in dividing up your children’s time between you and your ex, many parents find the quality of time spent together is higher. Co-parenting means careful planning, negotiation and compromise, but it also means children get dedicated, valued one-on-one time with both parents individually. Once the initial upheaval and uncertainty of separation has passed, children usually settle very quickly into new routines and circumstances. Letting them be involved in decisions that affect them can help children adjust more quickly, while not overloading them with unnecessary involvement in the private issues between you and your ex.
‘For the health of your family’ should include all of you: as individuals, as single-parent family units, and as co-parents. Out-of-court methods of dispute resolution like mediation and collaborative family law can help you to work together with your ex to find a way to move forward with your family’s well-being in mind, and reduce the impact of separation on your children.
To speak to a family solicitor about the options for separating as parents, visit Frances Lindsay & Co or call 01628 634667.
Tags: celebrity divorce, divorce, divorce advice, divorce lawyer Thames Valley