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How well is a child coping with divorce and child custody?

Whether they are in Washington or another state, children are often overlooked during divorce. Parents can spend so much time sorting out their divorce issues that they forget that their children are about to undergo a life-changing experience over which they have no say. Children can experience trauma, resentment and anger during the process of child custody negotiations. For divorcing parents who want to stop and think about their children's welfare, knowing the red flags of emotional trouble can help them see how well their children are coping.

One indicator of trouble adjusting is that a child has become withdrawn or no longer has strong social ties to brothers and sisters or friends. A child also may not want to talk about the child's parents' divorce. In contrast, children who are coping well can usually express both positive and negative feelings about their parents and the divorce. But a child who utters only a word or two or refuses to talk to people may be depressed.

Another sign of trouble is a child who engages in self-mutilation. People who feel overwhelming emotional pain but are unable to express it often hurt themselves, so parents should check for signs of self-mutilation such as cuts and bruises. Other signs of trouble include declining personal discipline, bad grades, fighting and failing to complete school projects or meeting deadlines in time.

A sudden lack of interest in hobbies and sports, fewer or no friends and a lack of interest in doings things with parents are also signs of trouble and often indicate emotional trouble that needs to be explored for the child's best interest.

Parents should realize how difficult a divorce is for children. Consultation with a family law professional may help a child, as well as parents, better cope better with the situation.

Source: The Huffington Post, "10 Signs Your Kid Is Adjusting Well To The Divorce," Wendi Schuller, July 20, 2014

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