Our friend and colleague, Professor Robert Emery, a nationally recognized researcher from the University of Virginia, conducted a 12-year study on the effects of divorce mediation on children and parents. His findings dramatically document the beneficial impact of mediation. We encourage you to explore his research findings for yourself at www.emeryondivorce.com.

 

Our lending library also features the DVD Split: Divorce through Kids' Eyes, an award-winning 30-minute documentary by Ellen Bruno. Split "is made exclusively from the viewpoint of children ages 6-12, speaking the powerful truth of what is on their minds and in their hearts as their families change...[and encourages] parents to make better choices as they move through divorce."

 

 

 

Children and Divorce

Most of us separating and divorcing parents struggle at some point with the feeling that, somehow, we’ve let our children down. We see their sadness and upset, and we deeply wish things were different. In this context, it’s reassuring to take note of a key finding from the extensive research literature about children and divorce:

  • Children are resilient and tend to land on their feet emotionally, even in the context of separation and divorce.

In addition, as  Robert Emery, Ph.D., a leading researcher on the impact of separation and divorce on children, has said, it’s important “to distinguish between pain and pathology.” By this he means that while children feel sad about separation and divorce, that doesn’t mean that they are suffering long-term developmental harm from it. To the contrary, most children are not at risk for long-term harm.   However, there’s a second key research finding:

  • Exposure to conflict between parents is harmful to the emotional development of children.

Watch a VideoThat’s where mediation can play such a pivotal role in protecting children from harm. Mediation provides a setting in which the people who know and care the most about the children -- their parents -- decide what’s best for the children, rather than turning over these decisions to a judge who doesn’t know the family. Mediation encourages cooperation rather than confrontation, and supports parents in making the transition from a marriage which has become unworkable to a co-parenting relationship which can work quite well. In our office, we ask parents to bring a recent photo of their children to the orientation session, and we take time to learn about the children at the very beginning of the mediation. During subsequent mediation sessions, a photo of the children will be on display as a reminder that the children’s welfare needs to be at the center of the decisions made in mediation.   We also encourage parents to use our lending library to deepen their understanding of the needs of children during divorce.

 

 



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