Considering Divorce? Will Your Children Get a Vote?

Submitted by: Cathy Meyer

A friend sent me a handout from Oregon about the effects of divorce on children. If you’ve been through a divorce I’m sure you’ve taken the time to read articles about children and divorce in an attempt to help you help your child adjust.

We put a lot of thought and consideration into how our children are feeling and dealing once the decision to divorce is made. The decision to divorce is not something our children participate in though, there is no consideration given to their opinion when it comes to whether or not to split the family up.

I find it interesting that the ones who will be impacted the most have no say in the decision making process. Divorce laws do not take into consideration the opinions of children. Parents seem to believe that their relationship and whether it continues is separate from their relationship with their children. Parents fail to understand that their relation encompasses their children, is in fact the very foundation of their children’s security.

So, why is it children don’t get a vote when the decision to divorce is being discussed or decided? Should a father be allowed to walk away from his family with no legal consequence when it can be proven doing so damages children and has long lasting negative consequences?

Should a mother who is no longer “happy” have the right to leave her marriage, pursue her happiness at the expensive of her children’s well-being without first being required to take into consideration her children’s happiness?

Does it not make sense that the most important product of a marriage…children should not have legal rights, laws that give them power or say so when it comes to whether or not their family remains intact or not?

Consider these responses by teenagers when asked about divorce before you form an opinion on the subject and then share your opinion on the subject.

Why don’t parents ask the kids?

“Because they don’t care about their opinion, or it doesn’t effect their progress on working on their problems. Parents can get away with divorce.  Kids can’t get away with anything.”

Why do parents divorce?

“Because when you give them the ability to divorce they just abuse it.”

Don’t parents care?

If the parents say “We want to get a divorce.” And the kids say “We shall be sad.”  The parents don’t say “O.K., we’ll stay together.”  That never happens.  That’s what comedians are.

How did your parents divorce make you feel?

“Like I have no effect.  Like I’m a bystander.  Like they know how I feel, but they don’t care.”

How do you feel about your parents?

“My opinion is lower because I thought they would be more mature and solve their problems.  They didn’t even ask what it would do to me.”

What do you think parents need to know?

“I just think they deserve to suffer a lot just to know what it’s like.”

  • Were your children part of the decision making process before your divorce?
  • Do you feel a child’s opinion should be considered when deciding to divorce?
  • How would your child answer the above questions?


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    Deciding whether to divorce may be the most important decision of your life. Two essential factors in a divorce are emotional compatibility and legal issues. For couples with children, the children’s welfare also becomes a key factor. Children of divorce are more vulnerable to depression, behavior problems, and problems in their own relationships. Because of this, it is important for parents to think carefully about how they will tell their children and what they will tell them. When possible, the entire family should meet together so that both parents can answer children’s questions. This strategy may also help parents to avoid blaming each other for the divorce.

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    Sonia says

    My children and I are all in the same boat. None of us wanted this divorce, but we had no choice. It is a horrible feeling to have your whole world change and to have no control over what is happening. My ex did not care about our feelings. His pursuit of his own happiness was paramount, at any price. If I had known he would sacrifice the security and happiness of our children for his own selfish agenda, I would never have married him and had children with him. Now our children are damaged and I am still staggering from the shock. What is left for our children to look forward to in life? Their father has taught them that marriage is a meaningless, cruel joke–a “contract” that can be broken at any time for any reason, or for no reason at all. Promises from the one you love mean nothing..Commitment is optional…The one you love may stab you in the back…all the lessons I never wanted them to learn, their own father has taught them, to my horror.

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    Children deserve a voice in their parents marriage. After all, they’re the ones who suffer the most and forever when 50% of them fail.

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    Alysa says

    My step dad was abusive to us and a cheater, but my mom stayed with him because he was her boss at work and she was afraid she would lose everything if she left him. One day it went too far, she called the cops, and she left with all four of us, my 2 brothers and one sister. After that, we lived in a run-down house and she was fired because he was her boss. We had no money and she had to become a weed dealer to get by with 4 kids, she got caught and we were all sent to live with our different dads except my sister, who was old enough to live with her boyfriend. Mom went to prison for two years. All in all, I’m happy she left him. He’s a better person without the stress of 4 kids that aren’t his and a family to take care of. She is always depressed, but at least less stressed. Even when we were living off of ramen noodles and food bank food, it was better than living with that man another day, I’ve been through 2 divorces, and my own parents hate each other and never dated, never had me. I’ve been through alot of breaks. As a little kid, I did not want them to split up because I was convinced they could work it out. The older i got, I realized my mom still loves him, but did it for us. I’m 16 now.

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