The Damage Nasty Divorces Do to Children

In this article by Miles Morrison, LCSW we learn about how messy divorces where the parents are fighting to win the divorce cause severe damage to their children.

“Our caseload of messy divorce cases increases year after year, and after a number of years of seeing the remains of these cases, we are beginning to see these children become adults, and the dysfunctions of their own relationships. Like it or not, these children who are now adults and having relationships, have learned the unhealthy ways taught to them by their parents’ actions and words.”

“Quite often, these unnecessarily messy divorces are fueled by a parent or parents who demonstrate narcissistic tendencies, sociopathic behaviors, and vindictive anger. Their children often develop depression, anxiety, separation issues, substance and alcohol abuse, and personality disorders that may not be remedied.”

“Some of the more prevalent signs of the OBSESSED ALIENATORS:

  • They are absolutely obsessed with destroying the other parent’s relationship with the child.
  • They have instilled in the child to express the feelings of the parent instead of the child’s own, based on the alienators’ experiences, not the child’s.
  • They will show up in court with an entourage of family friends, quasi-political supporters and religious leaders to attempt to persuade the judge to be swayed.
  • They want the court to punish the other parent by blocking visitation with the child. They believe in a higher cause that is beyond the understanding of a judge.
  • The court’s authority does not intimidate them.


  • They have an intense hatred toward the other parent.
  • They repeat word for word the words of the alienator.
  • They have unfounded and irrational beliefs toward the other parent.
  • They feel no guilt for how they treat the alienated parent, the parent’s family, or others who are supportive of that parent.
  • They can appear normal UNTIL THE SUBJECT OF THE ALIENATED PARENT COMES UP. Then, the hatred appears.”

Read the article to see what attorneys and therapists can do to help these kids.  But most importantly, be aware that your behavior as a divorcing parent in divorce can not only damage your financial security, but can also damage your children. Is it worth it?

Click here to read the entire article.

Stay-at-Home Mom Facing Divorce? Don’t Expect Alimony? Forbes article is way overstated.

Forbes recently published an article entitled “Stay-at-Home Mom Facing Divorce? Don’t Expect Alimony” in which the author talks about how the trend is towards women not receiving any spousal support, even when they have been a stay-at-home mom for years and have not been in the workforce.Mother and Daughter Baking Together

In my opinion, at least for Colorado, while there has been a trend away from lifetime maintenance, the article is overstating what is actually going on both in the Courts and when people negotiate their own settlements through mediation.

The article implies that someone who has been a stay at home mom and has not worked for years and has no qualifications, and was married to someone who is making $200,000 annually, should be expected to go out and get a job and support herself is, in my experience, an unrealistic expectation.  Certainly, the courts are expecting parents who have teenage children to go to work, but with an income difference as large as indicated by this case, spousal support for some period of time would make sense.

In Colorado we have a new statute that built upon the previous one in that it now provides a formula for a guidance amount of maintenance (including a maximum) and a length of time.  These are for guidance only and are only one factor the Court is to look at when determining a maintenance award.  Other factors include the need of the potential recipient, the ability of the potential payor to pay maintenance, the health of the parties, their earning ability and work history, ages of the parties, lifestyle during the marriage, economic resources available to the parties, and any other factors the court may deem relevant.

If you choose to make your own decisions, rather than rely on the Court to decide for you, then you can take all the factors into account and work out a plan that makes sense and feels fair for both of you and your children.  In my practice, I use financial software to help people understand their financial situation and what the options are for running two households. We can determine after tax cash positions of each person, taking into account their income, expenses and debt payments, which is very powerful for working out whether spousal support is needed and how much.   This often can involve reducing expenses as the combined incomes often cannot afford the previously enjoyed lifestyle.  We can also look at what the future may hold in terms of income and expenses as the situation changes (children getting older, improved incomes, etc) to see if spousal support should change over time, and for how long spousal support will be needed.

To me, it is important that parents think very carefully about what is best for the children in making decisions about spousal support.  Is it best for the children, and make financial sense, for the primary care parent to work full time and put the children into before and after school care?  Does part time work make more sense, at least until the children are a bit older?

To me, the key issue about spousal support is what makes sense for the family moving forward?  What feels fair, and makes sense, given all the circumstances?  I believe that many people have the ability to work this out for themselves, with a little help from a divorce professional, as long as they are willing to “problem-solve” and be fair with each other, rather than go for an “I win- You lose” result.

Parents: Don’t drag your children into your divorce depression

Why I primarily focus on the financial aspects of divorce, I do also help mediation clients with their parenting plans.  While, of course, the financial aspects are important to get right for the future financial viability of both parents, making sure that the children are Mother and Daughter Baking Togetherminimally affected by the divorce is even more important.

I ran across this article by Rosalind Sedacca this morning, and wanted to share it.  It includes a good analysis and suggestions for helping children to adjust to the emotional changes and challenges that parents face when going through divorce.

Helping Children Cope with Divorce

See this  Link to excellent short article from  Miami Children’s Hospital.

Key point is that the degree to which children are impacted by divorce is usually connected to the amount of conflict they are exposed to during the process.  Choosing an adversarial approach to divorce (ie litigation) is bound to increase the conflict and thus the potential damage to your children.  Taking the high road, and choosing a non adversarial approach (not always possible, I recognize) such as non-represented mediation or collaborative, can be a more satisfying process and less expensive process, and more satisfying result, because you are in charge of your own outcomes (not relying on a third party to decide for you).