Family Law

The Importance of Developing a Support System for You and Your Children Before Divorce

By Amy Castillo, J.D., University of Minnesota School of Law
Learn how to develop the support system you need to help you survive your divorce.

Divorce is consistently ranked as one of the most stressful and emotionally draining life experiences a person can endure. Divorce is painful for people without children, but for people who have children, divorce is exponentially more difficult. While parents are trying to adjust to life without a partner, they also have the burden of consoling their children and explaining to them that life will go on and that both parents still love them. Sometimes, parents have to divert nearly all of their limited emotional resources to ensuring that their children adjust to the divorce and continue to thrive at home, in school, with their friends, and in extracurricular activities.

Every parent—indeed, every individual—who’s going through a divorce needs to develop healthy coping mechanisms to deal with the hurtful and monumental change in their lives. If you’re suffering through this situation, it's important to assemble a network of people who can help you manage your case, tell fact from fiction, and offer a shoulder to cry on. The following is a list of people you should consider including in your support system.

Your lawyer. While your lawyer is responsible for ensuring that your legal rights and responsibilities are protected, a lawyer can help in other ways, too. For example, your attorney can recommend well-regarded child psychologists, CPAs, and property appraisers. Or, if you're angry and think you’re entitled to something, your lawyer can confirm whether you're entitled under the law, or whether you’re being unreasonable. Just remember that your attorney charges for all discussions, including phone calls and emails, so keep these conversations short, and don't overuse your lawyer. It's fine to reach out to your attorney when you need a neutral opinion about a legal issue that’s bothering you, but don't call your attorney every time you want to vent or complain about your ex.

Your family. Your family loves you and your children, a boon you won’t find anywhere else. When you feel like it’s becoming too much to handle, when you’re melting down, when you’re at your wits’ end with your children, your family will be there to offer support and help you pick up the pieces. Plus, your children will benefit from spending time with other people who love them.

Your friends. Your friends like you just the way you are. Friends are great for blowing off steam, which everyone going through a divorce should do. Your most trusted friends can also be relied upon to tell you the truth, even when you don’t want to hear it. Some of your friends may even have children who can spend time with your kids, offer a much-needed distraction, and help normalize their lives.

Your therapist. Both you and your children should consider attending therapy, even if you haven’t in the past. Divorce is explosive and traumatic, and therapists can help you and your kids develop coping skills to help get you through the worst of the emotional firestorm and restore balance to your lives.

Your divorce support group. Many churches and community centers have support groups for people who are working through divorce. These groups are usually free to attend and also offer assistance to those who have survived divorce and are working to restore their lives.

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