Article written by Jackie Porter
Deciding to separate is challenging at the best of times. There are so many difficult conversations to tackle with your soon-to-be ex-spouse which can be sensitive and emotionally draining. These circumstances can be further complicated when a couple is co-parenting a transgender child.
Families in this situation need to understand they have a very crucial role to play in their transgender child’s life. Research is clear that parents who are nurturing and supportive will contribute to higher self-esteem and better mental health for their transgender child. Your kid’s future is also likely to see more positive outcomes compared to transgender children raised in unsupportive environments.
In order to provide your transgender child with the proper support, parents will need to do what it takes to come to terms with their separation. This means agreeing on strategies that will help legally end the relationship and improve their ability to successfully co-parent. Read on to learn what factors parents in this situation will need to consider.
Are you and your ex on the same page?
If you plan to share custody of your transgendered child, you need to consider whether you are on the same page regarding how you will support and counsel your transgender child. If you do not share the same philosophy on how you will parent, now is the time to investigate alternative ways to address the issue and create a more harmonious family situation.
The Limitations of Family Court
If you cannot resolve the matter with your ex on how you will co-parent, you can turn to family court. This will help with negotiating custody arrangements and parenting time. Keep in mind, the goal of family court is to act in the best interests of the child. This means weighing the arguments of yourself and your co-parent against each other. The family court will look at other evidence presented in the case to determine what is in your child’s best interests. To further the case, you may also choose to use an independent party to give a voice to what your child is going through, as well as to provide a recommendation for the courts. This may be from either a legal or clinical perspective.
In the case of a transgender child, they will likely rely on expert witness testimony. This may include your child’s doctor, therapist, and other individuals familiar with your child’s circumstances. In this type of case, collaboration between the child, the parents, and the child’s medical team is essential in the law for determining what is best for the child. Unfortunately, if there is a communication breakdown, taking your ex to court can lead to a lengthy legal battle. The truth is, the courts still have a lot to learn when it comes to issues related to gender and children. So it may not be the best place to resolve your issues.
The Alternative Dispute Resolution Process may be a better option for you and your family. These processes focus on addressing both the legal aspects of divorce as well as the emotional health of the parties involved during and after divorce. An ADR process can be part of a holistic approach to resolving family disputes. This is especially true as your child begins to determine how they will address their sexuality and approach gender re-assignment. There are other issues that may need to be addressed. These include changing gender identity on birth certificates or information about the child’s sex on health insurance plans.
You and your ex will need to have many conversations in the future about this. For example, how you will finance medical costs associated with their transition and when the right time may be to move forward with gender reassignment. Determining how you will support your child through all of this will be crucial. Creating the most amicable separation with your partner now will be key to keeping the door open for ongoing healthy communication.
Benefits of Family Therapy
The unique needs of a family that is going through and supporting a transgender child should not be underestimated. The journey to healing in any divorce can be a long and arduous process, especially when factoring in how you will co-parent your transgendered child. Don’t underestimate the benefits of getting therapy for your family. Be intentional about the future you want to create for yourself and your transgender child. Take the well-being of the family into account as you negotiate your separation.