According to data from the American Psychological Association, in 2021 about 40-50% of married couples in the United States will divorce. Most often, the petitioners are women, but the changes impact dads as well. So here’s some divorce advice for fathers that can help them cope with the hardships of the breakup, stay tight with their child, and spread their wings again after.
1. Stay Close to Your Children
Most divorce strategies for fathers start with talking to the kids. Children may not show their feelings, but a parental breakup is also a painful experience for them. It can affect their behavior, mental and physical health, school performance, relationships with their parents, and how they feel about themselves.
It is crucial to maintain a daughter-father or son-father relationship to prevent the child from feeling abandoned or blaming themselves for their parent’s divorce. To do this, fathers should:
- Delicately explain why the parents decided to go different ways.
- Not blame the second spouse and not arrange “fights” with them in front of the children.
- Not neglect their parental responsibilities and spend time with their children (attend events, pick up or drop off from school, spend vacations or holidays together, etc.).
“Before talking to the kids about the divorce, get a few age-appropriate books that speak to them about divorce,” Morghan Richardson, Matrimonial Law Partner at Davidoff Hutcher & Citron tells Parentology. “Work hard to make decisions together about what you are each saying to the kids. Kids hear and understand more than parents realize. Creating a unified front will let them know that even when you are apart, they can expect unified parenting from you.”
2. Create a Parenting Plan
A parenting plan helps divorced parents who have joint custody act in the child’s best interests and avoid conflict. Usually, the judge approves the parenting plan provided by the spouses. Parents can compose it themselves or with the help of a mediator. The mediator listens to both sides and suggests a compromise solution. The plan includes things like child visitation, responsibility for transportation, rest time, overnight stays, and joint holidays.
“Lots of mediators are experienced family law attorneys and can guide you through to a successful resolution of your issues, where the solution is created by ‘you’ and not by a judge or magistrate who really doesn’t know you, your situation, or your children and their needs,” William Geary, Attorney & Mediator, Owner at Law Offices of William L Geary CO, LPA tells Parentology.
3. Stay Connected From a Distance
Life after divorce for men with kids doesn’t always allow them to be together. Military service or work can become a stumbling block between parent and child, complicating the relationship.
Technology can and should be used to prevent distance from spoiling the relationship between father and children in the 21st century. Video calls, daily messages, sending unexpected gifts — all of this will allow the child to feel connected with the father.
4. Know Your Rights and Obligations
According to a U.S. Census Bureau survey, the most frequent reasons for divorce are incompatibility (43%), infidelity (28%), and money issues (22%).
A man or woman may be more meticulous about new money spending if financial problems were an issue. To avoid constant quarrels about the payment of child support and/or alimony, you should discuss this issue with your spouse in advance.
“Create a simple and clear schedule of mandatory payments, discuss possible additional costs and methods of payment,” advises Bob Butterworth, Chief Executive Officer of CompleteCase.com, an online divorce paper preparation service. “The more you organize your financial issues, the more enjoyable it will be to interact with your ex during visits for your child.”
5. Do Not Be Afraid to Turn to Specialists
Support for divorced fathers is as vital as it is for women. Men do not need to try to decide everything independently or experience all the shocks within themselves. There is no shame in turning to help.
A family law specialist can help you understand the specifics of the divorce process and how best to defend your interests in court. A therapist can help sort out your feelings, prevent post-divorce depression, or improve relationships with children.
“Recognize that there are sources of divorce support that you can leverage to help you sort through the menagerie of feelings you’re experiencing and learn how to deal with them in a healthy and constructive way,” notes Cheryl Dillon, CPC, Divorce Coach & Co-Founder, Equitable Mediation Services. “When you can control your emotions, you can better prepare yourself for your divorce negotiations and approach them with a calm, level head.”
To be clear, there are no universal tips for dads that work in every case. Each parent chooses one or more that suits their particular situation. The main thing to remember is that divorce is not the end, and it should not affect your relationship with your child.
About the Author
Natalie Maximets is a certified life transformation coach at OnlineDivorce.com. She has expertise in mindfulness and sustainability. She is a published author focused on the most progressive solutions in the field of psychology. Natalie helps people go through fundamental life challenges, such as divorce, and build an entirely new life by reframing their personal narrative.
Divorce Advice for Fathers — Sources
American Psychological Association
U.S. Census Bureau survey
William Geary, Attorney & Mediator, Owner at Law Offices of William L Geary CO, LPA
Bob Butterworth, Chief Executive Officer of CompleteCase.com
Cheryl Dillon, CPC, Divorce Coach & Co-Founder, Equitable Mediation Services
Morghan Richardson, Matrimonial Law Partner at Davidoff Hutcher & Citron