Law Office of Ellen Dixius

Protecting a child’s mental health after divorce

When children are involved, divorces in Texas can be a stressful experience for the entire family. While parents carry most of the financial and personal burdens associated with divorce, children often suffer mental health problems in the aftermath. This can lead to anxiety, especially as it relates to whether or not the leaving parent will continue to play an active role in their lives.

According to the State Bar of Texas, most parents who seek sole custody believe this will further their children’s best interest. However, numerous studies have provided proof to the contrary. The organization posits that there is well-documented evidence to support the fact that when separated from one of their parents, children suffer emotionally. Divorces that are high-conflict tend to have the worst effect on children, resulting in depression, academic failure and emotional turmoil.

The underlying issue in many child custody battles is that one parent fears losing their child to the other. This can put both parents on the offensive, prompting them to seek ways to disqualify the other person as a parent and retain full custody. However, when children had a healthy relationship with the other parent before the divorce, this may ultimately only serve the parents’ interests.

According to Business Insider, mothers have traditionally received full custody, while fathers are often viewed as more expendable. Mothers do continue to be the primary caregivers in most families, but fathers now account for about 41% of the time that children spend with their parents.

Children who were privileged to experience this balanced closeness with both parents and are later separated from one of them may carry that scar for the rest of their lives. In contrast, children who continue to spend at least 35% with each parent generally adjust better to life after divorce.

Naturally, there are exceptions to this. Children who feared their fathers or who never experienced a strong, healthy paternal bond may not benefit from a forced relationship with their fathers for the sake of shared custody. In addition to this, there are many families where the fathers are the primary caregivers and receive primary custody. In this case, it is the mother who may provide mental health benefits for her children by maintaining a healthy connection post-divorce.

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