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Tips for Talking to Children about Divorce

Ideally, both parties begin a marriage with the dedication to making their partnership a “happily ever after” story.  That simply, however, cannot happen for every one of us.  As you have probably heard before, nearly 40-50 percent of marriages in the US end in divorce.  Children often find themselves in the middle of a difficult family situation.  If you or your ex-spouse have made the decision to legally separate, talking to your children about this decision can be a difficult step.  Fortunately, there are things you can do to help make things as easy on your child as possible.  Communication is key and talking to your child about the divorce in the right way can help things go smoothly.

How to talk to your kids about divorce

Speaking with kids about separation can be tough. Emotions will run high, so it is essential that you keep a level head and strategy about what you’re going to say prior to sitting down to talk it out.

Here are our seven ideas for talking with children concerning separation.

1. Don’t bring it up until it is a certainty

While it might seem like a great suggestion, to be honest, and open, it is almost always a good idea to wait until the divorce is a certainty.  If things change and you end up deciding to stay together it can further confuse and worry your children about their future.  That is why we suggest waiting to have the talk until you and your ex-spouse have reached a point that separation is certainly going to happen.

Although this will almost always be a difficult conversation, there are other times you will want to avoid having the talk to make things easier on your kids.  General tips include avoiding celebrations, birthdays or special events.  You will also want to avoid divorce conversations before any fun activities or prior to bed.

2. Tag Group It

Even if you and your partner can no longer work together, you should do everything you can to work together on this conversation for your children.  In general, kids can take this potentially devastating news better when they receive information from both parents at the same time.  Even if you both disagree on why you are getting divorced, it is generally best to agree on what information you are going to provide to the children.  In other words, you may have one side of the story, while your partner has another.  However, what you tell your kids should be the same as well as what you think they are ready to hear, and what can wait until they are older and more secure.

3. Simpleness is Key

No one knows your kid as you do.  It is a great idea to speak to them in terms that they will relate to.  If you are dealing with younger or grade school children speak in simple terms and avoid any damaging details.  If you and your spouse have been fighting or arguing a lot recently you may also want to reassure your child that the fighting is going to stop.  You may also need to explain that one partner is going to be living somewhere else, but they will still be able to see them on the weekends or after school on certain days.

4. Reassure your Kids it is not Thier Fault 

Remember that kids are completely ego-centric.  They think that the world revolves around them and that almost everything that happens relates to them in some ways.  It is very common for kids to think that they did something wrong and that is why mommy and daddy are not going to stay together anymore.  It is important to help your children avoid self-blame by helping them understand that they did not do anything wrong and that this is a decision you have made together.

5. Get Ready for Questions 

It is natural for kids to not understand what is happening, much less why it is happening.  For the conversation to be as successful as possible, you may want to prepare yourself for common questions that will be asked.  This includes things like, “does this mean that mommy and daddy don’t love each other anymore?”  “Are you going to make me move out?” “Who is going to take care of me?” “What about Christmas or my birthday, will you both come to those things?”

Preparing legally for a divorce

Even though this article discusses the impacts divorce can have on children, divorce is also tough on adults.  Remember that you are not alone, you do not need to go through this on your own.  Having an experienced legal team on your side can make a world of difference.  If you are looking for a family law attorney in Utah, consider contacting Burton Family Attorneys at (801) 393-1106 to speak with a legal professional and request a consultation.

Disclaimer: Using this site or communicating with Burton Family Attorneys through this site does not form an attorney/client relationship. This site is legal advertising only. Do not rely on the information on this website as an alternative to legal advice from your attorney or other professional legal services providers. If you have any specific questions about any legal matter, you should consult your attorney or professional legal services, providers.