A leading family lawyer and mediator is urging divorcing couples not to turn a blind eye to teenagers and older children during the divorce process.
Alison Schmidt of family law firm Lake Legal says couples often forget about the feelings of teenagers in the course of getting divorced as they can incorrectly assume that they are ‘adult’ enough to deal with and understand what is going on.
Alison said: “Divorce is a traumatic experience for all concerned, but it can be especially devastating for teenagers who may be overwhelmed by the prospect of parents splitting up, regardless of whether it’s expected or not.
“Some teens can even feel that they are to blame for the divorce in some way and it’s important that the parents point out that the separation is not their fault. Parents should also encourage their teen children to be open with their feelings and emotions and not to bottle things up, which is never an easy thing to do with teens at the best of times never mind during a period as stressful as a divorce. Not having anyone to talk to or confide in can make things worse, often leading to anxiety and depression.”
Alison Schmidt and the team at Lake Legal have come up with the following tips for teens to help deal with the difficulties they may experience when parents decide to divorce.
Remain balanced and fair to both parents: Some parents may try to persuade teens to side with them to win them over. It’s important to be able to talk to or be with one parent without the other being hurt or offended.
Work out how to spend time together: Try to give advanced notice of events which both parents may wish to attend such as concerts, sports matches and school shows. This isn’t always easy and could prove awkward as they may not wish to encounter each other, but alternating events might help the situation.
Stay in touch: splitting time between parents’ houses can be hard with the other parent. Similarly, time away or holidays with one parent can be painful for the other, so it’s important to try and keep in contact. Communication is quick and easier than ever before – phone calls, texts, Skype, emails, and postcards all help to make sure neither parent feels left out.
Try not to worry: discuss any issues or worries surrounding the situation with both parents and share your concerns. Find your way through the situation as a family.
Remember life goes on: Divorce often makes teens feel helpless and duty-bound to help deal with their parents’ problems. It’s important to carry on with life and get on with being a normal teenager. Try to live as normal a life as is possible until the situation settles down.
Lake Legal operates nationally from offices in Leeds and Manchester. It was named ‘Family Law Firm of the Year’ in the Yorkshire Legal Awards and has earned recognition in the top tier of firms in both Chambers & Partners and the Legal 500.
For more information contact Nathan Lane on 07447 921654.