Although divorce is never easy, it is the children who often suffer the most in the years leading up to and after this painful life change. Divorce will upend a child’s life no matter their age when it happens or whether the split is amicable or contentious, and this can strongly affect their emotional and social development.
To minimize the effect that marital conflict and separation will have on the children, it is important for parents to be aware of changes in their children’s behavior. Keeping communication open with their children is key, as is being able to identify signs of distress in the children and responding appropriately as the family works through the emotional and psychological struggles of divorce.
Telltale signs of distress
Divorce affects children differently at various stages, but one emotion that is common is anger. School-aged children are especially susceptible to this reaction and will often also feel guilt that they may in some way be responsible for the divorce.
When children internalize these sad or angry feelings, they may begin to withdraw from social settings and experience depression. Their grades may suffer, and they often develop a poor self-image. As they watch their parents in conflict, they may engage in risky behaviors as well.
Younger children may become insecure and develop separation anxiety. This can cause regressions such as clinginess, temper tantrums and bedwetting. They may also develop sleep issues, nightmares and feelings of anxiety surrounding bedtime, and sometimes weight gain.
Children usually do not like to be stuck in the middle while their parents are fighting, and so will often pick sides. This can also cause stress that can manifest as stomachaches or headaches, as their loyalty to one parent may create alienation or conflict with the other parent.
Custody in Mississippi
The state of Mississippi recognizes both physical and legal custody, which can be either sole or joint. Where parents can come up with their own custody arrangements, the court will generally uphold these agreements. If the parents cannot agree, a judge will determine the optimal custody and visitation arrangement based on what is in the best interests of the child, including either parent’s ability to maintain consistency and continuity of home life, a nurturing and loving relationship with the child, and ability to provide for the child’s physical, emotional and educational needs.
For residents of Gulfport and the Gulf Coast, having compassionate and effective legal counsel will provide the support that will allow you to protect your children and your rights as a parent.