10 Tips for Telling your Children about your Divorce or Separation

Divorce undoubtedly will affect children. Some of the questions you may have are; how do we explain to children we are separating? How can you tell your child about your divorce? And how do we stop children from becoming casualties of our divorce? The most important aspect of your divorce is that it does not descend into a fight, otherwise your children will be the ones who suffer.

How to Tell your Children About Divorce

Shakira and Gerard Piqué reunited in court on Thursday, December 1, to ratify their child arrangement agreement, months after announcing their split in June.

The former couple, who never married, but had two sons and lived together as a family for 11 years, allegedly came to a suitable arrangement for the benefit of Sasha and Milan. According to reports, Piqué sacrificed for the benefit of the children, which reportedly will start in late 2023 with Shakira moving to Miami with the children. Shakira and Gerard used different doors to avoid seeing each other and signed the documents in different rooms. 

There are various things to consider if you need to tell your children you are separating, we highlight some of these below. We would also recommend you consult the Resolution website, which has various documents containing guidance and advice and more particularly the leaflet ‘helping parents to help children’ available online on the Resolution website.

1. Telling the children

Ideally, both parents should be present when having the initial conversation telling the children about separation but if this would create more tension separate discussions can take place. If you are having separate discussions, avoid placing blame and agree to what you are going to say beforehand as children benefit from hearing similar messages from both parents.

2. Address their concerns

Reassure children as to when and how they will see both parents and where they will live and attend school. Allow children to ask questions about any concerns they have and if you do not have the answers, indicate you are working out the details and that they will be the first to know.

3. Understand how they might be feeling 

Your children’s feelings about the separation may be different to yours. They may experience a range of emotions and they need to be supported in expressing feelings of anger or upset. Identify behaviours that are acceptable and behaviours that are not, with clear consequences for behaviours that are not. Identify healthy and appropriate ways to express anger or upset.

4. Things they need to hear

Children should understand that they are not to blame for the separation and that there is nothing they can do to change what is happening within the family. They should know that they can talk to either of you about any concerns or questions they might have. Reassure your children that they are loved by both of you, they can always love both parents and that they will always have a family.

5. Managing your relationship as separated parents

Try to address the other person in a respectful manner and be polite when discussing arrangements rather than criticising or assigning blame. Avoid using handovers as a time to discuss issues and instead communicate separately via email, text or arrange a separate meeting in person to address outstanding issues. Do not have heated discussions or arguments in the presence of the children.

6. Do not be negative if your former partner wants to be more involved

Fathers often want to be more involved with their children than mothers feel they were before the separation. There’s a realisation that if the children are not around every day more effort is needed to maintain a good relationship. Contact should be encouraged (unless there as safety concerns). It is important to also let the children know it is OK to enjoy themselves with the other parent. This helps them to enjoy being with the other parent without feeling guilty or that they are taking sides. 

It is also important not to bad-mouth the other parent to your children, or to others in front of them. Remember your child is part of both of you and attacking the other person is attacking part of them.

7. Do not cut off grandparents 

They will usually side with their child. You should both tell them not to when the grandchildren are around. Let them know what you are doing to minimise the damage to their grandchildren and tell them to do the same. Help from grandparents can be very useful and should not be cut off.

8. Use a shared calendar 

You can do this electronically and both use it to put in important dates and tell each other things but also have the same child-friendly wall calendar in both homes so the children can see when they will be with each parent. This provides huge reassurance.

9. Try to divorce amicably

Use a member of Resolution Lawyer or mediation to try to develop a civilised and dignified separation. No-fault divorces were introduced into the UK last year, giving couples a less combative means without finding a contentious issue on one side that’s caused the rift.

10. Take advice

Not from friends or family but objective advice from a specialist family solicitor. There’s an old legal saying that a lawyer who acts for himself has a fool for a client. How much more so if, in the emotion of family breakdown you try to do it yourself. Of course, there are cost consequences but believe me, the cost is far less than the cost to your children and to you of getting it wrong.

How we can help

We pride ourselves on being sensitive to your needs whilst working to assist your transition into the next chapter of your life. If you are looking for a family law solicitor to help you through the process of your divorce, financial matters and children matters, please contact the family team at 01273 956 270 or email: [email protected].

By Published On: March 6th, 2023Categories: Insights

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