Even if you and your soon-to-be-ex have a relatively amicable divorce, there’s no denying that the process will be emotionally challenging for you and your little ones. When parents divorce, they are often presented with the reality that it is not just them splitting up; it is a family unit that goes through the changes and not just the couple.
While it will be hard on your children no matter how you handle it, there are ways to minimize distress and hardship for your little ones. From choosing the right family lawyer to keeping the conversation open after the divorce is finalized, there’s a lot you can do to help your children through the divorce process. Here at John R. Foley, P.C., we can be that reliable, compassionate family lawyer you’re looking for.
Our team of family lawyers in Dearborn has extensive experience with divorce, custody, child support, and other aspects of family law. If you need a family lawyer in Dearborn, then contact John R. Foley, P.C. today to see how we can help. And keep reading this blog for tips on talking to your children about your upcoming divorce and custody case.
Present a United Front
Even if you and your partner do not see eye-to-eye on everything, it is important to be as united as possible when telling your children about your upcoming divorce. By doing so, your children will be less likely to blame one parent and defend the other. Your children will also be more understanding of the situation. Even if you and your partner aren’t in agreement about the divorce, it is important to put those feelings aside and instead focus on your children’s well-being. Use words like “we” and don’t accuse your partner of anything in front of the children.
When you work with a family lawyer for divorce or mediation, you can fully express yourself. When telling your children about the divorce, though, it’s important to work together as a team.
Plan It Out Ahead of Time
If you already have a family lawyer in Dearborn, then talk to them to see if they have suggestions for what you should say or how to say it; family lawyers have helped many clients who have gone through this and have often gleaned wisdom from them.
You wouldn’t go into a big presentation at work without any preparation — and telling children about your divorce is a high-stakes situation. Talking to children about divorce is a serious, life-altering conversation, so it certainly is not one you should improvise as you go along. Here are some good ideas and conversation starters:
- “We both love you very much and our divorce won’t change that.”
- “We’ve tried to fix what’s happening, but things aren’t working out.”
- “It’s not your fault that this is happening.”
- “Things may be changing, but we still love you and we’ll always be a family.”
Think About Timing
Not only should you plan what you’ll say and how you’ll say it, but you should also consider when and where you will tell your children about your divorce. For example, you want to be absolutely sure you are going to divorce before you tell your children. If there is a chance you and your partner might stay together, then do not tell your children yet.
Then, if you are absolutely sure about your decision, it is imperative to choose a good time. While any family lawyer will tell you there is no “perfect time” to tell your children about your divorce, there are times that are better than others. Right before a soccer game, in a crowded restaurant, or on an evening when you do not have much time are examples of bad times to tell them. Choose a comfortable environment and make sure you have enough time.
Keep It in the Family
You definitely do not want your children to hear about your divorce in their daily carpool before you have even told them. You also don’t want to tell one child at a time. This places a lot of pressure on this child to not share the information with their siblings. Just as you and your spouse present a united front by speaking about it together with your children, it is a good idea to ensure all your children are there at the same time.
Parents often choose to tell the oldest child alone and shield the youngest child from the hurtful information. However, this leaves unspeakable pressure on the child who knows — and it takes away a part of their emotional support system. You can have follow-up conversations with children individually to address their questions, concerns, and interests (especially if ages do differ a lot), but the initial conversation should include everybody.
Don’t Get Into Details (Yet)
Nobody knows how their child will react to the news that their parents are divorcing. There may be tears and tantrums, but there could also be nonchalance and avoidance. Most children, however, may jump to asking questions and trying to figure out what their future will look like (which is a natural response). They may ask who they will live with, where they will go to school, or if they and their siblings are splitting up.
In this situation, any family lawyer should make the same recommendation: do not get into the details. Until you finalize the divorce and custody case, you truly do not know what will happen. You need to meet with a family lawyer, file for sole or joint custody, and move through the entire divorce process still; it is far too soon to make any promises that could later end in hurt feelings.
Telling your children about your divorce is a big conversation. Your children are going to face some big emotions and feelings, and it is important not to overwhelm them. Focus on the basics, reassure them of your love, and avoid the specifics (for now).
Respect Your Partner
It’s no secret that you and your soon-to-be-ex don’t agree on everything. From deciding how to tell your children to who gets what in the divorce, there are sure to be arguments and disagreements. When telling your children, however, it is essential that you respect your partner. This may sound similar to “Present a United Front,” but it is truly that important! If you play the blame game, there could be unintended consequences in how your children handle the upcoming divorce and custody case.
You most likely have extremely valid reasons for not trusting or respecting your ex right now, but the fact of the matter is that they are your children’s parent. While you may just see them as your partner you are divorcing because of an affair or financial problems, they see a parent whom they dearly love; it is not fair to criticize, belittle, or blame your partner in front of them.
Be Open to More Conversation
Finally, it is important to realize and honor that this is an ongoing conversation. Let your children know you will meet with a family lawyer, and the process may go on for months. Make sure they know they can come to you at any time with questions or concerns. You have now had, at minimum, months to process the information; your children, however, are just now getting the information. This means they’ll need time to identify and acknowledge their feelings, and that certainly cannot happen in just one night.
Because you planned it out ahead of time and thought about timing, your children will likely feel comfortable in asking questions during “the talk.” But they will still need that time to process and you may be asked questions during inopportune times in the future. For their emotional well-being during the divorce process though, be sure to validate their concerns and questions whenever they come up. Just as this will be an emotional journey for you for years to come, it will be for your children as well.
Meet With a Family Lawyer in Dearborn Today
We hope these tips have been helpful and that you can move forward with confidence in telling your children about your upcoming divorce. While the conversation is never easy or especially enjoyable, our family lawyers have seen clients have great success when following the tips in this blog.
Here at John R. Foley, P.C., we want to be your resource during the divorce process. Our family lawyers are passionate, competent, and detail-oriented, making them just right for your divorce and custody case. We also offer mediation if that is a legal service you find yourself interested in.
Some representative matters for our family lawyers include the following cases:
- Obtained regular parenting time for a father after he was denied any with his daughter for two consecutive years (associate attorney Jesse Stec)
- Obtained parenting time for a father who was denied parenting time for four years (associate attorney Jennifer D. Larson)
Divorce is difficult, but you are certainly not alone. Contact John R. Foley, P.C. today to work with experienced family lawyers in Dearborn.