Child Centered Divorce

Essential for a child centered divorce is a good relationship between the divorced parents. Parents should not fight over the children. They should not focus on their legal rights and the legal rights of the children. The problem of divorce is shifted to a problem of the children.

In a child centered divorce or collaborative divorce, the well-being and the interests of the children are place on the top of the priority list of the separating or divorced parents. Research has brought into daylight that children in a one parent family do not suffer from the same negative effects on children of divorce. Divorced parents that keep fighting about their children and that are focussed on their legal rights contribute largely to the negative situation.

No-fault divorce

Some people blame the not so long ago introduced “no fault” divorce for the many problems children face after the divorce. Divorce has become too easy. It removes the responsability from the marriage. Governmental organisations, the therapeutic jurisprudence movement, child support organisations, therapists and other professionals focus on the well-being of the children after a divorce.

Divorce has shifted from a problem of the parents to a problem of the children. Is it not for the benefit of the therapists to organise and provide long lasting counseling and therapy programs?

Parents that are really child centered, should not even consider a divorce. The best parenting takes place in marriages. If parents cannot solve their own marital problems, why should they be able to work out their parenting plan succesfully?

Key for a child centered divorce: A good relationship between the ex-partners

As Mike Mastracci writes in his book “Stop Fighting over the Kids”, parents that aim for a child centered divorce, should stand out by rising above the level of conflict. The parent(s) should overcome the obstacles to communicate and interact in an effective way with their ex partner.

Focussing on legal rights and digging one-self into a position usually results in a legal and emotional fight that costs tens of thousands and sometimes hundreds of thousands dollars.

Think about what can be achieved for children of divorce if the money is spend on their future instead. But the emotional damage to the children from such a process is usually worse. The children grow up in the atmosphere of their constantly fighting parents.

Well, if parents divorce and want to put the children on the top of their priority list, they should step over their personal grieves towards their ex.

An agreement with your ex partner, in which the following principles are written down can form the basis of achieving a real child centered approach:

  • Neither parent should fight over het children
  • Parents should not fight over every detail of the parenting plan
  • Be flexible and not paranoid about arrangements
  • Have a workable and flexible agreement / framework - adapted to changing needs
  • Parents inform each other about the childs doings progress, school, medical records on a regular basis
  • Parents keep each other up to date about the whereabouts of their children
  • Parents will decide together on major issues like school, healthcare, sports and other activities
  • How and when parents will inform each other about hospital visits of the children
  • What a parent will do in an emergency situation and how and when he or she will inform the other
  • Parents inform each other about the childs doings progress, school, medical records on a regular basis
  • Parents will be both entitiled to view medical, school records, reports from therapists etc
  • Both parents will be a school contact person
  • Both parents are allowed to collect the children after school
  • Who pays for the transportation costs of the children
  • How phone contact can be maintainted while the children are with the other parent
  • An explicit arrangement on regular communication about the children and the parenting, preferably face-to-face
  • Figure out how a conflict between the parents will be resolved if it endures (e.g.: in case of no agreement, hire a mediator to help making the decision, if that does not bring a solution: step into collaborative family law; if that does not bring a solution: litigation)

Divorced parents need to set aside their own emotions and frustrations. They need to stop fighting over their children. In a child centered divorce situation, parents direct their time, energy and money on improving and maintaining a healthy relationship with each other.

Are you a Child Friendly Divorced Parent? Do the
Self Assessment


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