My wife and I both agree our marriage is over. But, we have three children together, and we’re worried the divorce will hurt them. Should we stay married for the sake of the children? Or, if we get a divorce, how can we make sure the children get through it okay?

You have your priorities right. You both recognize that the long-term wellbeing of your kids has to be the top consideration in determining the way you end your marriage. A North Carolina divorce has tremendous potential to inflict lasting pain on a couple’s children. Stick to your determination to avoid that.

Your willingness to remain in a marriage you both recognize is “over” says a lot about your mutual commitment to your children. As a first step, I suggest that you consider marriage counseling, if you have not yet tried it. It’s possible that you two still have enough in common to revive your marriage. Yes, I work as a Wilmington divorce attorney, so recommending that couples explore options other than divorce might work against my financial interest. But, just as a good dentist never will extract a tooth that still is basically healthy, I believe in doing whatever it takes to keep a family intact, if possible.

Should you stay married for the children’s sake?

However, if you realize that your marriage really cannot be revived, then you must get a divorce. Staying married for the sake of the children is a noble sentiment, but almost always is unhealthy and unworkable in real life. Let’s say your youngest daughter is three years old, and you commit to remaining in a loveless marriage until she reaches age 18. That’s 15 years of your prime adulthood sacrificed.

Can you do it? Probably. But all too often, couples that try to make that commitment just have resentments that slowly curdle over then next 15 years. The feeling of being trapped ends up poisoning their family relationships—first with the spouse, and then with the children. Even though the choice was yours not to divorce, you may end up secretly blaming your children. If you wait until your daughter is grown to divorce, that likely will be a bitter and vengeful divorce proceeding.

As a parent, you are expected to make some sacrifices for your children’s happiness. You cannot expect to sacrifice your chance at personal happiness and fulfillment and have everything come out all right in the future. A divorce will be better for the family than a toxic, hollow marriage.

A Good Divorce: Yes, it Is Possible

Once you and your spouse decide that the marriage is over, that is the best time to arrange to end the marriage in a positive way that provides closure. You still have enough of a working relationship with your spouse to reach an agreement on the fundamental issues: division of property, alimony, child custody, and child support. Your mutual commitment to the wellbeing of your kids will keep you on track.

Done properly, with mutual respect, a divorce can be an important lesson for your children. You can teach them how adults can act responsibly to settle their own problems in a cooperative manner. You and your wife may no longer be able to stay married together, but you can still show respect—and maybe affection—for each other and love for your kids.

Turn to Speaks Law Firm if you truly are interested in a non-adversarial divorce in North Carolina. First and foremost, we are a Wilmington family law firm: that means we are more interested in seeing a family flourish than in collecting a fee to break a family apart. Call us today at 910-341-7570 locally or toll-free at 877-593-4233. We will do our best to end your marriage while preserving a lasting, positive relationship among all the members of your family.