Explaining Divorce to Your Children

Posted by Steven D. Eversole | Oct 15, 2014 | 0 Comments

The decision to divorce usually arrives after months, years, even decades of complications and distance growing between married couples. While you and your spouse may have a clear understanding of why you have made the decision to divorce, the answers may not be so clear to your children. How much do you need to tell your children about the divorce? What reasons should or shouldn't you provide when telling your children about the split? Though every situation is unique, it is important to consider the possible repercussions of revealing some or all of the reasons for divorce.

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While you may feel the urge to share all of your emotions and feelings with your children, they do not necessarily need to know the deepest struggles of your relationship. Similarly, children do need to make sense of why their parents have decided to divorce—but how much is too much? For any child, from toddlers to teens, learning that their parents are divorcing can be devastating. When breaking the difficult news, there are a few strategies that will help you best communicate and to protect your privacy as well as the interests of your children.

Establish ground rules with your spouse. Regardless of who initiated the divorce or what feelings each of you have about the end, you should decide together and in advance what your children need to know. You should discuss and agree that neither will blame the other, agree that you won't fight in front of the children, and you won't expect the children to choose sides. Even if you are not getting along, you should make your children and what information you deliver a priority.

Make sure it's definite and schedule a time to talk. You and your spouse should be clear on your decision to move forward with a divorce. Even if one party is reluctant, they should be aware of intentions to move forward and the reality of divorce. If you are considering divorce, our Birmingham family law attorneys can help you protect your rights and interests. Once you have made the decision, schedule an appropriate time and block out at least an hour to answer questions.

Reiterate key points. The primary message you should be sending to your children is that it is not their fault and that you and your spouse have made the decision together. Your children will likely want to know how the divorce will impact them, so it is important to reassure them, that even though you won't be living together anymore, you will always love them and both parents will remain involved in their lives.

Reasoning and motivations. Your children may ask why you have made this decision, and a general answer is better than being overly descriptive about your partner's shortcomings, lack of communication, or other issues that may have led to the divorce. You should let your children see that you are upset, but don't make your children feel that they need to comfort you. Remember not to bad mouth your spouse during the divorce transition or after it is finalized.

About the Author

Steven D. Eversole

J.D., Samford University's Cumberland School of Law, Birmingham, Alabama B.A., University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama

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