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5 tips for breaking the news of divorce and custody to your kids

On Behalf of | Apr 3, 2024 | Divorce

If you’re headed toward divorce, then your mind is probably running a million miles per hour. You’re likely worried about what your financial positioning will look like once property division is finalized, how much time you’ll get to spend with your children, and how you’re going to deal with the emotional aspects of untangling yourself from someone you’ve built a life with over several years or perhaps even decades.

But if you have children, then their well-being is probably your top concern. And before you even get to the major legal issues that you’ll have to address in your marriage dissolution, you’ll have to find a way to tell your children that their parents are getting a divorce and what the potential custody arrangement will look like. That can be stressful to think about given that your children are likely to have an emotional response to the news.

So, how can you inform them of the divorce and your custody arrangement in a way that protects their emotional and psychological well-being? Let’s look at some ideas that you might be able to utilize in your circumstances.

Tips for breaking the news of divorce and a new custody arrangement to your children

There are several ways to break the news to your children. You’ll have to decide on a strategy that you think is best for them, but here are some tips that you might find helpful:

  1. Present a united front: Even after you divorce, your children are still going to have two parents that they love and care about. If you or your spouse break the news of divorce without the other, then it could give your children the false impression that only one of you is to blame for the failed marriage. By broaching the topic together, you reinforce the idea that your children will be supported by both parents, that both parents care deeply about them, and that despite the divorce there will be an ongoing family dynamic that they can rely upon.
  2. Don’t talk poorly of the other parent: Some parents think that they can build their bond with their children by justifying their divorce and talking badly about the other parent. But this only harms your child’s understanding of the situation, damages their relationship with the other parent, and can breed resentment aimed at you. So, refrain from talking negatively about the other parent when around your child.
  3. Have a plan: A conversation about divorce isn’t one that you should improvise. Go into your discussion with a plan of what you and your spouse are going to say so that you don’t unintentionally say something that could be harmful to your children or your newfound circumstances.
  4. Provide reassurances: To a child, a parent’s divorce can feel like the shattering of life as they know it. This can create a lot of stress and uncertainty. You can tamp down those concerns, though, by identifying what will and won’t change during and after the divorce. This will help your children see that they’ll keep some sense of stability and consistency even though things will change.
  5. Be receptive: Your children are going to experience a wide array of emotions, and they may even make hurtful statements toward you and your spouse. Be as understanding as you can and encourage your children to ask questions and talk about their feelings. Even when it doesn’t seem like it, this will reinforce that they have parents who love and support them.

Have a plan for how to get through your divorce and child custody issues

There’s a lot to think about when you’re heading toward divorce. And you need a solid strategy before moving forward with your marriage dissolution and litigating any pending child custody issues. So, now is the time to get to work building your gameplan. If that’s something you need help with, then please consider seeking out any assistance that you may need.