Which parent should a child choose in a divorce?

Hachiko asks: I think my parents are getting a divorce. Should I be happy or sad (I’m happy)? My dad’s not a good man. My mom’s currently looking for a job, but she won’t get paid much. But my question is: who should I stay with? Clearly, my mom won’t be able to pay my educational expenses, and my dad’s acting very rude with her.

Hi Hachiko –

I have a number of questions on here about divorce, and most of them deal with the fact that the children of the couple feel very bad about it.  The fact that you actually say you’re happy tells me a great deal about your situation.  In particular, it tells me that this divorce is a positive and necessary one, and that it will likely make your, and your mother’s, life better.  I can’t say that, as a loyal pooch, I’m ever glad to hear about people divorcing, but in cases like this, the sad part is what was in the marriage before the couple split, not the split itself.

Divorce is almost purely a legal issue.  So a lot of the things you’re asking about are beyond my knowledge, and will be determined by a court of law.  For example: Will your father have to continue to financially support your mother?  Will your father have to pay child support for you?  Will you have a choice of whom to live with, or will the court determine that for you?!

So your questions might be things you don’t need to worry about at all.  Except, I think, one:  You ask me who you should stay with.  But how about the question of “Who should Hachiko want to stay with?”

And with that, it sounds like the clear answer is your mother.  When you say that your father is “not a good man,” I’m not sure what you mean – whether you’re saying that he dated other women than your mother while married to her, or that he is cruel or negligent, or that he’s a deeply evil person.  But I think it’s terribly important that a child or teenager live in a home where they’re taken care of, by someone they can respect.  If you think your father is a bad guy, nothing I say is going to change that.

Now about the question of affording your education, of course that’s terribly important.  But again, would your living with your mother mean your dad wouldn’t have any responsibility, or desire, to help you out?  And do you have access to free or inexpensive public education?  Maybe you won’t need his help anyway.

But regardless, again, there’s a really good chance that a lot of these decisions will be made without you.

Here’s hoping that they turn out as well as possible for you, and that the courts take your wishes into consideration.  Sounds like you’ve earned it!


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