John T. ChamberlinAttorney at Law
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Should I remain married because of the kids?

There are many good reasons to stay married to your spouse even when the marriage hits a rocky path. But is one of them because the two of you have children together?

Traditionally, that has been a major reason why many couples stayed in notoriously bad marriages. Couples who can barely stand to be civil to one another remained locked in loveless marriages out of a sense of duty to their children.

It's true that getting divorced is a disruptive event for everyone involved, and that definitely includes the kids. But staying in a dysfunctional, unhappy marriage can do children even more of a disservice long-term.

For one, it teaches them that dysfunctional family relationships are the norm and not the exception. Kids typically model their own personal and intimate relationships on those of their parents and other close relatives. If all they glimpse at home are negativity, strife and a lack of civility, it is likely they will seek to replicate that in their own later relationships, even unconsciously.

Certainly, there is no need to throw the baby out with the bath water when deciding whether to pull the plug on your bad marriage. Perhaps this is just an extraordinarily stressful time for the both of you. Unemployment, economic tumult and other uncertainties can place enormous strain on even good marriages. It might be a good idea to seek counseling and try to ride out a particularly distressful period.

But if the situation in your home has devolved to violence or you cannot bear the thought of remaining married to your spouse another day longer, you may need to devise an exit plan. That should always include seeking legal guidance before taking action to end the marriage. You may also want to get your children some counseling now to help them deal with the changes that will come.

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John T. Chamberlin, Attorney at Law
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