For many couples summer holidays are a real honeymoon, a respite from routine or simply an anchor to hold on to when the relationship wobbles. However, for others, living together 24 hours a day can be a real nightmare that ends with a divorce in September. This is indicated by data provided by the Statistics Service of the General Council of the Judiciary. Without going any further, in 2013, 28% of the total were registered by these dates. of the separations, followed by the period after the Christmas and Easter holidays. But what happens in these times?
For the president of the Spanish Association of Family Lawyers (Aeafa), María Dolores Lozano, these data respond, firstly, to the fact that couples spend more time together during holidays: “When children go to school and parents to work, life is more organized and there is less time to discuss. But beyond the frictions, there is another determining factor, and that is that August is a non-working month for the courts. That’s why, says the expert, “Many people prefer to wait until September instead of July to avoid the legal standstill.
According to I Observatory of Family Law in Spain prepared by Aeafa, 97% of divorces have a high or very high level of conflict in couples with children. In comparison, the level of confrontation is limited to only 16% of cases when there are no offspring involved. Consciously or unconsciously, during the divorce process, parents tend to make mistakes that cause pain and may have consequences for their children. Knowing what these faults are is fundamental, as it is the first step in avoiding them.
The importance of a good lawyer, and not stepping foot in the courthouse
Just as for a heart problem one goes to the cardiologist and not to the family doctor, for a marriage dissolution it is necessary to resort to a lawyer specialized in the matter. “It is a very frequent mistake not to go to an expert who, in addition to knowing about law, has notions of psychology and mediation. Because divorce It’s a complicated issue that requires interdisciplinary training,” says Lozano. In this regard, it stresses the importance of a mediation process prior to the court. “No one knows a family better than the family itself, so reaching agreements will facilitate later decisions about children,” she warns.
The lack of negotiation and agreement between the parties often leads to a judicialization of family life. “When parents don’t agree on anything and delegate all decisions to the court, they are turning judges into third parties. parents.” says the president of the Aeafa. In the same vein, the doctor of psychology and director of the Apside Conflict Resolution Center, Trinidad Bernal, rejects the idea that it is the judicial system that determines whether the child can go on a school trip, make a trip with friends or follow a certain medical treatment. “These decisions are often irreversible, which is why it is interesting that previously the parents reconstruct by mutual agreement the family formula, to carry out a parenting plan and allow children to continue to have the same relationship with their parents,” he suggests.
Age does matter, but not how we think it is.
There is a tendency to believe that when children react better to the breakup process when they are older. However, according to a study carried out by the Atyme Foundation, which involved more than 50 young people who have gone through this experience, children face these situations better than adults. Under the name Sons, mediation and divorce.The report states that although in 87% of cases there is a negative response to separation, 38% of older children and 16% of teenagers are angry about divorce, while in children it only occurs in 3% of cases. In addition, the document explicitly states that teenagers are the ones who feel the most fear and sadness.
However, “the younger the children, the less defensive resources they have and, although they are less conscious, they do not cease to experience the consequences of divorce. If it is also very conflictive, it is likely to be traumatic and very painful,” says Valentín Martínez-Otero, PhD in Psychology and Pedagogy. This can lead to anxiety disorders, depression, digestive problems, somatization and, more frequently, a drop in school performance. For the specialist, personality and coping style make the difference; in the case of teenagers, if they channel negatively the situation they tend to present a very rebellious and unruly behaviour. “The biggest mistake is to think it’s not affecting them because they don’t say anything about it.” nuances.
Another common mistake is to use children as messengers or as a means of hurting each other. This is well known by Dr. Concepción Bonet de Luna, Pediatrics Vocal of the Deontology Commission of the College of Physicians of Madrid – who has published a decalogue on care for minors with parents in conflicting divorce proceedings-who treats the children of couples who are in the process of separation on a daily basis. “Immaturity in modern relationships generates a strong feeling of hatred and aggressiveness. when the relationship breaks up. That’s why many people take every opportunity to harm each other,” he reflects. Sometimes that “opportunity” is the children. “It is perverse for one parent to speak ill of the other in front of the child, or to use them to send messages to the other parent when they are in separate dwellings. Younger children always need to have a positive image of their parents,” he stresses.
According to the expert, these situations usually provoke in the children offspring feelings of disorientation and insecurity towards both parents. “It is important for parents to assume that separating is not a failure, but if we have decided to have children we have a responsibility to them and we must use all the tools at our disposal to ensure that they are as undamaged as possible,” he concludes.
Introducing a new partner requires choosing the right time
Although each family has its own timing , if you’re looking for a divorce, introducing the children to a new couple with the divorce process still ongoing is not always a good idea. This is a delicate decision, to say the least. Bernal remembers that some caution should be exercised, especially if the permanence of the new relationship is not very clear and if one of the ex-spouses has not overcome the separation.
For Martínez-Otero, also a professor at the Complutense University of Madrid, dialogue and communication are essential in these cases. “It must be explained that it is by no means a question of replacing the other parent, although in some respects it may have a similar function,” he details. In this way,” she adds, “children can better understand and assimilate and complete the process of adaptation, which is determined by age. But not the way we think.