It’s natural for us as humans to feel a sense of fear when confronting the unknown. Often, we may stay in a difficult or unpleasant — perhaps even hostile — situation simply because we’re used to it and can’t imagine anything else for ourselves. Some married couples in Dallas Country may experience this type of feeling when contemplating divorce, especially if there are children involved.

On the one hand, parents may feel like they need to keep the marriage together for the sake of the children, no matter what. Children, of course, are innocent creatures and as parents, we want to shield them, to protect them from the reality of the world for as long as possible. But one thing parents do well to understand is that kids can be quite sensitive to their interpersonal dynamics, to bitter words and silences that often characterize the end of a marriage.

Without encouraging Dallas couples to walk away from their marriages, it can nonetheless be a valuable exercise to think about whether staying together — albeit miserable — is truly more in keeping with a child’s best interests than separating. And one thing that can help inform such a line of inquiry is a clear understanding of what one could reasonably expect in terms of child custody and visitation arrangements.

Courts here in Dallas will generally try to keep both parents involved in the lives of their children after a divorce, unless they have some reason (abuse, drugs or other criminal activity, for example) not to. Joint custody is therefore a common post-divorce scenario. A visitation schedule will be designed to help non-custodial parents maintain their relationship with children.

None of this is intended to downplay the difficulty, the gravity of the decision to proceed with a divorce. But lifting the frightening cloud of “the unknown,” particularly with regard to what will happen to one’s children, may help Dallas parents make a well-informed decision about their marriage — whatever that decision may be.