Does Your Child Need Divorce Therapy?


Divorce is a stressful process. As Orlando family law attorneys, we have sat with men and women from all walks of life who are considering ending their marriage. What was once thought of as a solid relationship that would last until death do us part takes a turn and cannot be maintained. While it is certainly traumatic for the couple, it can also be devastating for any children involved.

Custody of children in Florida is not cut and dry. While each parent may feel as though they are the best suited to keep and care for the children, it is ultimately up to the sitting judge to decide where the children will reside. There are several factors that a judge may consider when attempting to determine what is in the best interest of the children involved.

These factors include:

  • The health of each parent (mental and physical)
  • Whether or not the child has special needs
  • Financial considerations
  • The age and gender of the children
  • The wishes of the children
  • The emotional ability of the children to adjust to changes
  • Any evidence of emotional abuse
  • Any evidence of physical abuse
  • The opportunity for interaction with extended family

Many judges will suggest mediation if a couple cannot reach an agreement regarding custody. The goal of mediation is to make the process of custody a non-adversarial one. Parents are encouraged to work together to come to a custody agreement that is in the best interest of the children and eliminate the idea of winning or losing from the equation.

The Wellbeing of the Child Should Always Be Top Priority

No matter which parent is awarded custody of the children, it is important to remember that the mental health of the children living through the divorce needs to be considered.

While some children can cope with a divorce with familial support, the experience is particularly traumatic for others, and those children may require professional care and support in order to emerge from the divorce in a healthy way.

It’s not unusual for parents to worry about their children as they start their divorce process. Divorce can be hard on kids for a myriad of reasons, and many parents believe they can help their children handle the emotions and behavioral changes of the divorce without any outside intervention. This may not be the case.

While some parents may be hesitant to place their children in therapy, it can be beneficial. Parents need to set aside their personal biases regarding the therapeutic process in the interest of doing what is best for their children. While not every child will need professional assistance during or after a divorce, some will.

How to Know Your Child May Need Professional Help

1. Changes Last for Weeks

Every child experiences heightened emotions now and again, especially during an emotional event like a divorce. They may cry when the topic comes up, or they may become angry at the thought of having to go spend time with the parent they believe to be at fault for the split. Those things are typical.

However, if your child’s newly emerging emotions persist over weeks instead of days, they may need professional help in dealing with those feelings. Pay close attention to your child’s emotional or behavioral changes to determine if they are transient or persistent.

2. Concerns from Others

Your trusted friends and family members may begin to express concern with your child’s emotional stability or behavioral patterns. This could indicate that it is time to seek assistance.

You trust these people for a reason, so you shouldn’t brush their thoughts and feelings away. If someone approaches you and expresses concern for your child, you should listen to them.

3. Interference With Functioning

When your child’s emotions or behaviors start to impede their typical functioning, it’s time to seek professional help. Your once neat child may become disorganized and messy, their grades may start to fall and they may lose enjoyment in things they once thought fun.

If you notice these things in your child and they aren’t sharing their feelings with you, a therapist can help.

4. Changes in Eating or Sleeping Patterns

A child with a healthy appetite may suddenly lose interest in food. A child who previously seemed to rarely eat may seem insatiable.

Sleep patterns may change or nightmares may begin. If these things last longer than a few days, a therapist may be able to help your child cope.

5. Criminal Behavior

Any type of criminal behavior that your child develops should be an immediate indicator that therapy should be sought. Things like stealing, vandalism and physical assaults are not things to ignore, even for a moment.

Your child may get off easy with the police if they are caught, but these issues could be signs of a larger problem.

Not all children have a difficult time with divorce, but many do. Your child may not react in a typical way. If you find that your child needs more help than you can provide, don’t hesitate to seek professional help.

Speak to an Orlando Family Law Attorney Today

If you need assistance with your divorce, please reach out to our experienced team of Orlando family law attorneys. We will speak with you to discuss your needs and goals and tell you how we can help you. Call our office today to schedule a free case evaluation.

About the Author
Andrew Nickolaou, Esq., B.C.S., is a founding partner at Bernal-Mora & Nickolaou, P.A. He practices almost exclusively in divorce, marital and family law. Andrew and his partner, Ophelia Bernal-Mora, Esq., B.C.S., joined forces in March 2016 to form the unique and boutique husband and wife family law team at Bernal-Mora & Nickolaou, P.A. Together, Andrew and Ophelia take a practical and team-based approach to all of their cases and clients to deliver the highest quality experience and representation.
Andrew Nickolaou

Andrew Nickolaou, Esq., B.C.S., is a founding partner at Bernal-Mora & Nickolaou, P.A. He practices almost exclusively in divorce, marital and family law. Andrew also handles record expungements and sealings. If you have questions about this article, contact Andrew today by clicking here.