Coaching, Divorce Options

Divorce and Restructuring your Family

The restructuring of a family may mean relocation which sometimes leads to temporary displacement. Find tips on making a smooth transition for your children. (3 min 27 sec read)

Hon. Sherrill Ellsworth (RET)
Judge Ellsworth was one of the court's most respected and admired bench officers. She retired from the bench to focus on having a greater impact on today’s families by making our courts more accessible, effective, and efficient.

Restructuring is generally a corporate management term for the act of reorganizing and/or streamlining the legal, ownership, operational, or other structures of a company for the purpose of making it more profitable, or better organized for its ever-evolving needs.

Families, too, go through some sort of restructuring when separating and/or divorcing. This familial restructuring may be by mutual agreement or foisted on the other party’s objection. Nonetheless, it means change. Change is often challenging and sometimes painful. When children are involved then restructuring becomes more complicated.

Like a corporate restructuring, the restructuring of a family may mean relocation which sometimes leads to temporary displacement. Children rely on their school, faith-based and sports/extracurricular communities for support, continuity, and stability. When a family is restructured resulting in the uprooting of a child parents need to be sensitive to the potential signs or symptoms of distress that a child may exhibit. For example, a child who once was involved in theater and performing arts at her old school may be reticent to try out for the class musical at her new school. Not ready to be vulnerable in her new environment, singing the required solo in front of a group of “strangers” is perhaps just too daunting of an ask at this time.

Communication, understanding and a gentle system of support are important to let the child know that you recognize their challenges and that absent moving back to their old home you are willing to help them problems solve with sensitivity. Be patient, resist the knee jerk reaction, “SNAP out of it!” Create opportunities to meet and make new friends as a restructured family as well as individually.

Finances are impacted as well as when a family is restructured and depending on the age of the children, a family budget meeting may be a way to deal with the new reality. The only way this is an appropriate step is if candidly it is presented in a positive, non-blaming or negative way.

Now that your dad has a NEW family we have to move from our house to an apartment and you can no longer take piano lessons.

Here is a preferred method

As you know our family is changing, sort of restructured and because of that, I wanted to talk with you about how we can work together to make some choices about our budget.

Obviously, children don’t have a say in most of your finances but, a dedicated teenager who loves piano may opt to take fewer lessons per month or even mow the neighbor’s lawn to contribute to music lessons rather than have no lessons. The newly restructured family may collectively choose alternatives to the annual premier vacation spot if you, as a parent introduce adventure, intrigue, possibilities and the opportunity for children to have a REAL say in the holiday selection.

Clearly, the day to day operations of the restructured family may be dramatically changed. And those changes can be overwhelming to both newly single parents and their children. Do not let the diminution of shared duties get the best of you. Newly restructured families abide by the same principals even when there is a reduction of employees. Restructured families can follow suit becoming efficient models of coexisting.

As the adult, carefully create a list of all necessary tasks or responsibilities that allow for your family to function properly. For example, lunches have to be made, laundry can’t pile up, the pets have to eat as well as the kids and bills need to be paid. Then make a delegation of duties. Even the youngest of children can learn how to help be responsible for some entry-level tasks. This gives children a sense of positive self-importance. Additionally, it embeds normalcy in what may have felt like a disruptive time in your life and the kid’s life.

Families aren’t businesses or are they? Taking a few cues from the corporate world your newly restructured family can be in the business of creating a happy, healthy, and stable world for kids. Your home can be a place where you and your kids thrive despite divorce or separation and the restructuring.

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