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Divorcing? When You Should Go to Court

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Divorce is usually a painful experience for both parties. It is particularly challenging when a couple has children. Divorcing individuals must continue parenting while they manage shattered dreams and unresolved hurts and feelings.

When my son's father and I split up, every moment seemed to bring a new hurdle. In order to care for my son and myself, I had to go through great extremes to protect my space, guard my sanity and make good choices. Co-parenting insisted that I do just that: co-parent. Everything pertaining to our son had to be decided together, even when we were angry, hurt and confused about our breakup.

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This was no easy task, and many parents are incapable of mustering the fortitude needed to keep their heads under such difficult circumstances. I often speak to parents who have not been able to navigate the terrain of divorce and co-parenting, finding it nearly impossible to make decisions about child custody and support, visitation rights and schedules, not to mention all the day-to-day decisions we must make about and for our children. When co-parents cannot agree on issues concerning their children, and their attorneys cannot offer a solution, it is possible for the courts to intervene.

The following are a few issues that the courts will manage when co-parents need extra support:

Court-Ordered Child Support

In most states, the courts will ensure that child support is paid by the noncustodial parent to the custodial parent. State law sets forth formulas to determine the amount of child support. These formulas will generally consider, among other factors, the parents' income, health insurance costs, the percentage of time each parent has custody of the child, the income of a new spouse, and if the child is employed, his or her income. These formulas vary from state to state.

We all want the best for our children, but we can't all be superheroes at managing our emotions and our children's needs while facing a completely new way of living.

Custody Mediation

If the parents can't come together to decide what is best for the children moving forward, a mediator will be assigned to help them navigate the process. Once a parenting plan is created, it can become the custody agreement.

Court-Ordered Family Counseling

A court may order the parents to engage in family counseling in order to work through their grievances, blockages and resentments. The goal is to get to a healthy space so as to make a plan that allows the children to spend time with both parents.

Court-Ordered Communication Monitoring

When parents are in a deadlock and are not able to come to an agreement regarding the children in any way, the court can order that all correspondence between the parents be court-monitored. The process can prevent further confusion and misunderstanding to occur going forward. Drastic measures like this are usually assigned for a predetermined period of time and are reviewed frequently.

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It is not uncommon for divorcees to find they are so overcome by their hurt and anger that they cannot shield their children from the toxicity of the marriage. It's easy to judge these parents as weak and immature, but divorce is one of the most stressful events one can endure. Of course, we all want the best for our children, but we can't all be superheroes at managing our emotions and our children's needs while facing a completely new way of living. When we need extra help, the courts provide tools and resources to clear a path in the dense forest that appears at the end of a marriage. There is light ahead for all who encounter this difficult journey.

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