I am frequently asked by parents who are having difficulty in their relationships if they should stay together for the kids. What’s the right thing to do? What’s the best time to split up?

Well, as you can imagine, there’s no easy answer to these questions. Should parents stay together for the sake of the kids? Well, no, but they should certainly try to work on the relationship because they have kids. Divorces, even amiable ones, are hard on everyone, and separating from a marriage should be a decision that is well thought out and planned. It is not an easy decision to make and should be made after a couple tries hard to resolve their differences.The decision to separate should never be made out of anger. It should be a a thoughtful one, considering all the issues, especially the kids. Kids will be ok after a divorce, but the truth is that it takes a toll. To say otherwise, would not be truthful. But on the other hand, it is often better for kids to live with each parent separately than to live in an unhappy home with their parents together.

There are many reasons that couples want to separate. Sometimes they have grown in different ways and do not feel connected to one another. Sometimes work or other people have gotten in the way. Sometimes other activities or the kids themselves have become obstacles to the couple being able to connect. And sometimes, life just gets in the way, as prioroities have shifted and the relationship has become overwhelming. But, what is a couple to do? How much should they try to work on the relationship ? The answer is a lot! and after that, if it doesn’t work, to accept that and move on in the most amiable way possible.

When a couple does decide to separate or divorce, it is generally painful. Sometimes one person wants it and the other doesn’t. That makes it even harder. But if the couple has children, they have the responsibility to keep it amiable, and work hard to be respectful to one another, so the kids can thrive. I always suggest that couples engage in either mediation or the collaborative process, which are both non-adversarial processes aiming to help couples separate with respect and dignity. Both ways are committed to remain out of the courts and resolve issues through discussion. This is different from the traditional legal way of lawyers sending proposals back and forth, to be argued over and negotiated. In the mediation or collaborative process, the parties meet with their attorneys and together discuss the options that are possible to resolve their issues. It is a committment to what is fair and equitable, it is not about winning or losing. It focuses on the best interests of the chld. It is a more humane process and aims to help the couple get through the hard parts without coming out hating one another. And from my experience, it is generally sucessful. It does require a degree of self control and maturity, and knowing what is right. Most people who have gone through this process are better able to co-parent together and move on with their lives.