If You're Considering Separation...
When a couple is thinking about separation, sometimes they're not thinking about anything but relief and magical improvement. "How much better it would be if..."
There was a discussion the other day on the unschooing chat, and afterwards Glenda Sikes created this really nice list:
Here's what I came up with to contribute to a "things to consider when thinking about separation or divorce"... It doesn't look like much, but it makes for a lot of thought :).
1. Based on current employment situations, can we afford two households? That would include monthly rent + utilities, plus move-in deposits for those things. Will s/he have to obtain furniture, kitchen stuff, bathroom stuff, etc.?
2. For a one-vehicle household (or if the second vehicle is not especially reliable), how will a second (or more reliable) car, and liability insurance for same, be funded for the spouse who doesn't mainly use the one vehicle?
3. If health insurance is provided by one spouseís employer and the whole family is covered, will the ex-spouse be able to afford the COBRA coverage or to otherwise replace the health insurance?
4. How will the childrenís lifestyle change because of changes in finances due to separation or divorce of their parents? Will fee-based activities have to be discontinued? (In addition to things like sports, acting classes, music classes, consider things like World of Warcraft and Xbox Live.) If the kids currently receive an allowance, will that be continued?
5. If two households cannot be supported based on current employment situations, how will we continue unschooling? Be realistic, and be specific. How will our kids' social lives be affected if both adults are at work at the same time and the kids are not driving age (with their own car)?
6. If my spouse and I split up, itís realistic to expect my ex will date and possibly remarry while our children are still minors. When our children are with my ex, I will have ZERO control over the people my kids are being exposed to. Am I ready to put my kids in that position?
7. How will I feel not having this person in my life any longer? This is my best friend -- do I *really* want to lose my best friend? How will it be to not ever kiss or hold hands with or make love to this person again? It's not common for couples to get a second chance, but we have the ability to make that second chance happen right now -- wouldn't it stink to not take it and then to regret it later (for example, when s/he remarries!)?
Sylvia Toyama's additions:
That's a good list, Sandra. I thought I had only addition, then as I typed more occurred to me.
What about relocation issues—once you divorce, what are the odds either of you will relocate? Will you follow your ex, or expect them to follow you? Are you willing to agree to stay where you are so that your ex-spouse can have time with the children? Would your spouse agree to such limits as well? If not, would you be comfortable sending your children to visit their other parent hundreds or maybe thousands of miles away? Who would pay for that travel, and where would the funds come from?
Also, while things may be bad now between two people, separation/divorce adds another layer (or several) of anger, disappointment, frustration, and hurt which can lead to really mean behavior towards each other, with children often caught up in the meanness. Yes, sometimes things can be worked out peaceably enough, but that can take a tremendous effort—and lots of trust. Things often get worse at some point, before they get better.
And, once you go to court to decide things like custody, support, visitation, limits on relocation, property distribution, etc, you've involved the courts in your life and in your children's lives. You open the door to having your children evaluated by experts and recommendations made on their behalf by guardians ad litem and psychiatrists.
I recently learned in the state I live in (Colo.), step parents have the same rights as parents. They are allowed to "put their hands on their children", meaning they are allowed to spank and physically grab and wrestle children in order to control them. (told to my by a police officer.)
So not only zero control over the people your kids would be exposed to, but another person (possible future step parent) would have equal rights as you, over your children.
Jennifer Cramer wrote:
Maybe add something like "Will it get any easier to work together for the best interests of the children if we are separated or divorced?"
Jen (who says it's not her original idea but she learned it from Ren or Meredith or someone and if she finds an exact quote will send it)
[Jill might rephrase this later, but it's good for now.]
One more idea/question I thought of has something to do with the
price the kids pay for the parents' decision to separate. I don't
have the clear wording yet, but something about the brunt of the
burden being on the kids, who are the ones who will end up moving
weekly or twice weekly to visit the other parent, of not having their
own base, being uprooted often. Or possibly not having access to one
parent as much as they need, if one parent moves away. Or in my
case, losing a connection with both my parents who chose to put their
new relationships at a higher priority than my relationship to them.
What is the price your kids will pay if you separate?
- Not having the stability of a home base.
- The unsettledness of "moving" once or twice weekly.
- Losing their things in between homes.
- Losing a connection with the parents as the parents take on new
- Losing resources that now need to go to two separate homes.
- Becoming pawns between resentful parents.
- Getting mixed up between loyalty and guilt (needing to be careful
what to say to each parent, not being able to declare their love for
the other parent).
(in the moment, with children, with oneself)