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Co-parenting in a military divorce: Keep this in mind

As one of many military families in Maryland, you, your spouse and your children understand what it's like to make personal sacrifices for the sake of the common good. You can likely relate to other military spouses who say it's challenging to find balance between military duties and family life, especially marriage. You may also relate to those who say their marital relationships haven't been able to sustain the rigors of military life.

Divorce is never easy, especially when children are involved. You and your spouse may already have a military family care plan in place, in case of active duty or divorce. Kids who come from military families often deal with unexpected life changes. However, that doesn't mean adapting to life after divorce will be easy for them, which is why it's helpful to keep several things in mind to help them cope and keep stress levels between you and your spouse as low as possible.

Parental conflict increases stress for children

Most children overhear their parents arguing at some point in their lives. Disagreement is common in marriage, so it's not unusual for kids to witness their parents at odds with each other. However, especially in divorce, if children are constantly exposed to parental conflict, it can make adapting to a new lifestyle more difficult for them.

No one is saying you and your spouse must agree on every issue as you work out a fair settlement in divorce. It's best, however, to try to keep parental confrontation out of earshot for your children's sake. If you are ill-equipped to resolve a particular issue, it's better to reach out for additional support than to fight it out in front of your children, which can cause confusion as to where their loyalties should lie.

Work as a team to help kids cope

From the start, it's best to try to approach divorce as a co-parenting team. If you haven't told your kids about your impending divorce yet, you might consider doing so together. Sitting down as a family and giving the kids an opportunity to ask questions or freely share their thoughts goes a long way in helping them develop coping skills.

Depending on the ages of your children, they may wonder about child custody, in particular where they will live if their military parent gets deployed. This is another reason to make sure to update your military family care plan. You can explain how it works to your children, so they know you will always meet their needs even though you and their other parent won't be living together anymore.

Resources on and off base

The military provides many resources to help families in divorce. You can also attend family support groups in your Maryland community, or request a meeting with a licensed family counselor, especially if your kids are struggling to cope.

Any number of legal problems can arise in a military divorce as well. There are laws in place to protect parental rights and advocates who can help make sure that your children's best interests are a central focus of all proceedings.

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