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Attorney Holly J. Moore on Beyond Staying ‘For the Kids’ — Making Healthy Choices in Difficult Marriages

By Nick Kasmik

A woman sitting on a sofa
Holly J. Moore (Image: Cindy Green)

No one plans to divorce after getting married and having children. And many couples who would otherwise divorce decide they will stay together for the sake of their children. But Holly J. Moore, divorce attorney and founder of Moore Family Law Group, suggests divorcing parents rethink that decision.

The sad truth is that sometimes — for various reasons — the relationship between the parents falls apart. Many divorce and others stay together for the sake of their children. However, having their parents stay in difficult or unhealthy marriages ends up being more harmful to children than divorce.

Holly doesn’t argue that divorce is harmless. “Is divorce bad for your kids? Yes. Yes, it is,” she says. “There’s no doubt about it. It’s not ideal.” But she maintains that handling a parental divorce is just one of the many struggles your child will face in life — and as a parent, you can help them navigate it.

“But you know what else is bad for your kids?” she continues. “Having a teacher that they don’t like. Not being the starter on the sports team. Experiencing death or loss in their family. Going through friend issues as they grow up. And all of those ‘bad’ things are going to help shape them, create resilience in them, and make them high-functioning adults.

“So yes, while divorce is terrible for children, it is our job as parents to guide them through that adversity and help them be able to overcome it — because suffering and adversity escape no one.”

In her nearly twenty years with Moore Family Law Group, Holly has seen that, in most cases, staying together “for the kids” ultimately helps no one. Your children will eventually pick up on your resentment towards your spouse.

Even worse, you might find yourself starting to resent your children because you view them as something that trapped you in your marriage. Divorce might not be ideal, but sometimes, it’s the healthiest choice you can make.

Most parents find themselves concerned with their children’s well-being during and after a divorce. In most cases, helping your child retain a sense of normalcy and connection with family requires you to make another potentially difficult decision — co-parenting with your ex.

If your relationship is amicable enough, this might not be terribly stressful. However, for some divorced parents, co-parenting opens up a series of never-ending frustrations. This is especially true if you and your ex have very different ideas of what constitutes “good parenting.”

Family courts will allow for differences in parenting style, but both of you must act in the best interests of your child. Holly J. Moore has noticed that all too often, parents deal with unnecessary turmoil because they don’t understand exactly what “in the best interests of the child” actually means.

“If you’re co-parenting with an ex, understanding that there is a difference between different parenting styles and a parent doing something that is not in the best interests of the child will save you a lot of heartache and a lot of torture,” she says.

“Let me give you an example. One parent sends the kid to school without a jacket on cold days. The other parent thinks this is really bad—it is not in the best interests of the child. But the parent who’s doing it thinks, ‘Well, if they go to school, and the kid gets cold and they don’t have a jacket, they’ll learn their lesson.’

“This is a prime example of different parenting styles. This isn’t something that you can bring the other parent back to court for because one parent isn’t looking out for the best interests of the child.”

Like Holly, many divorce attorneys will advise parents to avoid staying together only for their kids. But is there ever a circumstance where staying together for the sake of the kids can work?

If you’re constantly fighting, arguing, or just can’t stand to be around one another, staying together is a bad idea. But for some parents who have a friendly relationship, continuing to live together might be a workable solution. It’s definitely not the norm, but for some families, it’s an arrangement that makes sense.

Ultimately, when you’re a parent going through a divorce, the most important thing is to make choices that support the emotional health of you and your children.

Divorce is hard on everyone, but when you prioritize creating and maintaining a healthy environment for your child, you’ll help them work through the divorce and ultimately become stronger, more resilient people.

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