An educational program for separating/divorced parents with minor children. Once a divorce, custody, family support, or paternity action is started the parties will receive a court order requiring them to appear at the SMILE program which is generally held on the 1st Monday of the month from 6:00 p.m. to about 8:00 p.m. The location rotates between Gaylord, Grayling, and Kalkaska each month. At that program a staff person from the Friend of the Court office will be present to answer general questions. A video will be shown and the SMILE booklet provided along with other educational handouts.
Family separation and divorce is a very emotional and stressful situation for individuals, especially children. Often there are concerns about dealing with losses and ongoing changes. The more parents know about the process and the challenges of living in separate homes, the better they are able to cope with the changes and help their children adjust. While the program was initially developed with divorcing parents in mind, there is a lot of valuable information that is helpful in assisting all parents in understanding the impact family separation has upon their children.
The SMILE program (meeting, video, and booklet) has three goals:
- To provide information to help parents better understand the effects of divorce;
- To help parents understand the needs of their children; and
- To promote children’s healthy adjustment to divorce.
The information has been drawn from the experience of the developers of the SMILE program and other professionals in the field of divorce. Because each divorce and family situation is unique, parents are encouraged to consult other services available to divorced parents and their children. These include psychological services, legal services, support groups, emergency services, court mediation services, conflict resolution and mediation agencies, and books or articles relating to divorce.