FAQ with Eva Kogut: Addressing Divorce with Kids & Family
Q: What is collaborative divorce?
A: Collaborative divorce helps take the battle out of the divorce process by creating effective communication that will also be beneficial when talking to children.
It is a team approach with professionals helping the couple through a divorce. There are financial decisions, parenting decisions and many other emotional aspects that require more than just one professional to properly find the right course of action for specific circumstances.
Q: How should parents going through a divorce talk about it with their kids?
A: Parents should keep the message positive and let their kids know that even after the divorce, it is okay to love both parents. It is important that spouses are on the same page. Prepare for the conversation with your spouse by talking about what will be said in advance.
Keep it positive overall because negativity affects the kids. It is also important to communicate this with extended family, so they are not just supporting one parent but supporting the family.
Children require positive messages about both parents for their development, so they are not left with negative feelings about themselves or a parent(s).
Q: My family is saying negative things about my spouse. How do I navigate this situation?
A: There are always going to be future events that the extended family will be attending and it is important for there to be positive messages for children, especially at the elementary school level. These conversations are incredibly important for their children’s development and self-esteem.
Q: Are there any “don’ts” regarding divorce?
A: Parents should try to avoid introducing the divorce or discussing it over holidays or birthdays because we do not want the child to associate a special event with the divorce talk.
It is also beneficial to have conversations with the kids together, if possible. For example, after the news of the divorce is told to children, the family can do an activity together to show the kids that even though their parents are divorced, they can still be a family.
Q: How should clients talk to the people in their lives who bring up the idea that the marriage may still be able to work?
A: Acknowledge their help because they most likely are trying to help but overall, it is not their divorce or life, so it is important to draw that line. External people, whether they are family members or friends, do not know exactly what the divorcees are going through. It’s important that parties figure things out for themselves and come to conclusions on their own.
The more negativity, the harder it is to move forward in the process. Parties should make it clear that external support is appreciated, but it may not be helping in the way they think it is.
Q: What resources can help those going through a divorce communicate the situation?
A: Books are a great place to start to bring up topics that children may be too shy or nervous to bring up. Also, putting kids in groups where they can connect with other children going through similar situations will aid in their development.
Seeking community can make the whole process less painful for the children and the parents.
Q: What is the process like for someone looking for help with a divorce?
A: Our team wants to hear their story. It is important to understand what led them to this place. There are a lot of things that people are unsure about saying and I try to make sure they can be heard.
Next is examining their best course of action. This can be collaborative, mediation or litigation. I also try to provide resources to people from past cases and use my experiences to get them through the process in a smart way, looking at their specific circumstances.
Not everything is cut and dry and something like insisting on keeping the house may not be the best option for the client financially. Answering questions is very important because this is a learning process in order to find what is best for clients, long term.
Q: What is one piece of advice you have for a mom that is on the brink of making this change in their life?
A: Put some order in the chaos. Ask for a to-do list from an attorney and start engaging with the necessary people to make the right decision. Most importantly — take care of yourself. There are a lot of things we are worrying about as working women and moms, so it is important to focus on yourself during this increased time of stress.
Eva Kogut is an award-winning family law attorney who is committed to helping clients achieve the best possible results in their personal circumstances. She aims to inform, educate and clarify an often complicated and emotional undertaking in a way that helps change common perceptions and puts minds at ease.