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August 29, 2021
Divorce is not an easy process to go through as a family. However, sometimes divorce becomes a necessity for the couple, as they may have reached a crossroads in their marriage and it might be better for both of them to separate. Adults going through a divorce process have to adapt to new changes which include taking numerous decisions relating to financial and emotional aspects.
This process is even more difficult for children, especially when they are very young. At a tender age, children are not able to understand the new changes that arise from the fundamental fact that they will not be able to live with both parents as one family. Therefore, children must adapt to the immediate change of living with one parent alone and seeing the other parent only occasionally during the designated visit time. It becomes even more difficult when a parent decides to emigrate and thus permanently moves out of the country of residence of the children, which leads to even fewer personal visits. Emotionally, all these changes take a toll on the child's psyche and parents must strive to make the transition as cordial and friendly as possible.
Studies show that a divorce process can have the following effects on children, depending on their age:
For toddlers and preschoolers: because they are so young, children do not understand the need to be permanently separated from one parent. The concept of two houses can fill children with worry and fear. They feel anxious when they are not able to be with both their parents and can quite often feel that they are not loved by the absent parent.
For children of primary school age: A divorce process can cause them stress and anxiety and often makes them feel guilty about the changes it brings. Children of this age group often think of guilt and may feel that the divorce is due to their mistakes or shortcomings.
Research shows that children are the most affected by contentious divorces, which can be reflected in increased behavioural problems, poor academic performance and also in children's mental health.
Children need to adapt to the new changes, and one of the best ways is to keep up with a regular visit schedule and provide them with easy access to both parents that suits their needs. A regular schedule helps to bring a needs-oriented structure into their lives, and children might understand that both parents regularly prioritize their needs.
Parental support and reassurance can avoid many of the likely challenges, especially if parents can put their children's needs before anything else. Parents should also consider seeking the expert help, which can include medical and psychological support in helping their children. Solving anxiety problems through professional help has proven to be of great value to children. An expert is often able to identify the cause of a problem rather than focus on the behavioural issues alone and can help the parents to understand better and guide them in helping their children cope with such challenges.
The above information might not apply if both parties are non-muslim. Starting from the 1st of February 2023, UAE issued specific family law to be applied between non-muslim expatriate residents in case none of them wanted to apply his/her home country's law in the UAE. To know more information about this law, please feel free to click this link.