As discussed in part one, with divorce, the impact on children permeates several areas of their lives, and can often be as traumatic, if not more, on children as on the adults. One major area of change and upheaval is a child’s routine. With divorce, there are suddenly different and more routines to manage. Parents must balance their parenting time and the parenting time of the other parent. Children must adapt to different routines, and adjust their time according to the household they are in.
School is a common area of a child’s routine that may change drastically after a divorce. While in some cases, parents agree to remain in the same school district, and have both households within that district, often times that is undesirable or impractical. In these cases, a child may have a long commute to school with one parent, having to wake up quite early to make it to school on time. In other cases, the child must change schools, and leave behind friends, classes, and teachers they are familiar with, which can be a difficult adjustment. Studies have shown that after divorce, the school performance of children is negatively affected and can last into adolescence1.
Often, activities are not school-based, but rather, community-based. Maybe the child is on a travelling soccer team or in a local theatre troupe. These activities may be disrupted by divorce for a number of reasons. First, location may again become a problem. If one parent lives an hour from the other, scheduling the activities to accommodate all schedules can be difficult. Another potential problem is if one parent does not want the child to participate in activities at all, or during his or her parenting time. For example, if a child is on a travel soccer team, and the team travels each weekend and has practice on Wednesday, the parent who has parenting time Wednesday and every other weekend may not approve of this soccer schedule. This can make activities difficult for children to participate in consistently.
While the underlying causes of divorce can be endless, a problem that is often identified is that the parents have different parenting styles. After parents divorce, this can create confusion for children who have one set of rules and expectations at one house, and another set of rules and expectations of the other house. This can create stress for the child, working to please both parents with different expectations, further negatively affecting children.
We hope that this blog post has been helpful in identifying potential issues of divorce and the impact on a child’s routine. Stay tuned for part three, where we will explore some general tips to help transition the family after divorce. Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. practices throughout the state of Indiana. This blog post was written by attorney, Jessica Keyes.