If your marriage has reached the point of no return and you have agreed to start the divorce process, your first thought may be how it will impact your children. No one knows how they will react or how this news will affect them, but there are things you can do to make it a little easier.
Here are 7 ways to protect your children during the divorce process.
Don’t tell them until it’s necessary to do so
Although being honest with your kids is extremely important, there are times when they don’t need to know what’s going on. For example, if you have agreed to separate but have no alternative but to continue living in the same home, it may be better to hold off until a later date before announcing your intentions. This is particularly important if your children are younger and may not fully understand what’s going on.
Being told that you are splitting up but seeing you both at home following the same routines will not only be confusing for them but could also lead to increased distress when the time comes for one of you to move out. Weigh up the pros and cons before telling them, or it could cause bigger issues in the long run.
Don’t argue in front of the kids
Most couples begin the divorce process intending to be amicable, but that isn’t how it typically ends. Money, division of assets, and child custody arrangements can cause animosity and ill-feeling, which can, in turn, lead to disagreements and arguments. These are all common emotions, but you must try your best not to argue when your kids are around.
Hearing their parents argue can be distressing for a child, and they may even start to believe that it’s their fault their mommy and daddy are separating. It can cause sadness or guilt and may even lead to behavioral issues at school or home. If you know that a disagreement or argument is imminent, see if a family member or friend can look after the kids and keep them out of earshot.
Hire a good law firm
Many law firms can deal with divorce, but that doesn’t mean just any firm will be right for you. You are about to make some of the biggest decisions you will ever make – many of which will involve the future of your kids – so you must feel supported, encouraged, and at ease with whomever you appoint. It’s also worth finding out in which areas they have experience.
As well as handling the basic divorce processes, divorce professionals like Just Law Family Law Attorneys in Utah specialize in other associated areas such as child custody arrangements, child support, and alimony. Knowing that you have a professional team on hand to maneuver you through all aspects of divorce will not only give you peace of mind, but their expertise could ultimately make the transition a lot easier for your children.
Ask your children how they are feeling about your divorce
Your children must know that they can talk to either of you if they have any questions. The more honest they are about your divorce, the less burdened they will feel and the more inclined they will be to discuss things with you going forward.
When you feel it necessary to do so, sit down as a family and chat about it. Explain in an age-appropriate manner why you are divorcing, what you intend to do in terms of custody arrangements, and how it’s likely to impact them. Be open and honest (within reason), and they should follow suit.
Don’t use your children as a weapon
Regardless of what led to your divorce, never use your children as a weapon to hurt the other parent. If you know your ex loves your children and will take good care of them, that is all you should focus on. You may be hurting from things they did, and you may be angry at your ex’s behavior, but you must remind yourself that being a terrible partner does not mean that they are a terrible parent.
If your ex wants 50/50 access to your kids, ask yourself what would be best for them. Being without them for extended periods may be torturous for you, but if seeing both of you for equal amounts of time is what they want or need, you need to put your feelings to one side.
When it all gets a bit much, rise above, control your emotions, and remember that they are just innocent children who love both of their parents equally.
Let the school know
You don’t have to go into great detail about your personal affairs, but telling your children’s school that you are getting divorced is a good idea. Kids spend more time at school than they typically do at home, so a teacher is likely to pick up on any behavioral changes that may arise.
It’s always handy to have another adult keeping an eye on your child as they can let you know if they feel that your divorce is causing anxiety, upset, or distress.
Get your kids excited about their new life
If you are moving house or your ex is moving elsewhere, act positively about it and make it sound like an exciting prospect for the children. They will have two homes, two sets of toys and two families to create long-lasting memories with – which can only be a good thing!
Where possible, let them choose the décor for their new room, go shopping for accessories and get them involved.
No one expects to divorce, and no one enjoys it, but the bottom line is that your kids are the most important thing in your life, so you must do everything you can to protect them.
Your heart may be breaking throughout this whole experience, but you must hold back the tears, force a smile and tell them everything is going to be ok.