Divorces are sticky, stressful situations. Some are fortunate enough to never have to experience one. However, many people are not as fortunate, and they will go through a divorce at some point in their lives. According to Divorce.com, forty-nine percent of marriages in the United States end in divorce. If people don’t personally go through a divorce, they may go through one in a second hand way, such as when parents get divorced or if a friend gets divorced. Being stuck in the middle as a child while your parents are going through a divorce can affect you for the rest of your life.
It can be extremely difficult for a child to cope with their parents divorcing, especially if they are really young. That is why one state is trying to help children to cope with parents’ divorces. A new state law in Oklahoma prevents people with children from getting a divorce until they take an educational class about how children of divorced parents are affected by their parents’ divorce.
Some critics say this might be a conservative law that is trying to prevent people from getting a divorce, but lawmakers passed the law with children in mind first and foremost. The class is not intended to force couples to stay together, but to educate parents on how to best deal with their family dynamic after getting divorced and how they can help their child succeed and cope in a healthy way after the divorce.
When parents are going through a divorce, it is during that time that children need the guidance of their parents most, but the parents are unavailable for help due to their own role in the issue at hand. Oklahoma already had this law implemented in several counties, but recently increased it to be in effect statewide. They did this as a way to combat their status as the state with one of the highest levels of divorce in the country, only falling below Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas and Kentucky, according to The Huffington Post.
The program is titled Helping Children Cope with Divorce. “Family & Children’s Services is the place to turn for help when parents live apart. We make difficult life transitions easier for you and your children,” according to their website. The seminar is also required when parents are battling for custody of a child in several counties in Oklahoma. The class is meant to help parents with financial problems of divorce with children, be able to assess whether their child is having difficulties with the transition, understand the normal reactions in relation to child development with divorce, use effective parenting skills in normal situations and talk to their children about the divorce in terms that they can understand at their level of maturity.
The hope psychologists and lawmakers in Oklahoma is that with this new law, children will be more likely to get the care that they need since their parents will be getting the education that they need to help.
Written by Kellie Bertels, an attorney with Bandré, Hunt & Snider, LLC in Jefferson City, MO where they are the leading attorneys.