Divorce is difficult enough when there are no minor children involved. When there are minor children, it tends to make the entire process more complicated – and often more contentious. If you are contemplating divorce or have already established that divorce is in your future, deciding how to tell the kids and how to navigate the divorce process with your children is crucial. Fort Worth custody lawyer Jon Boyd offers some tips on what not to do when your divorce involves children.
Once the decision has been made to move forward with a divorce, the children need to be told. Exactly how you go about telling them, and precisely what you tell them, will depend to a large extent on the age of the children. A conversation with a 15-year-old about divorce will not be the same as one with a five-year-old. Nevertheless, planning ahead is key. Ideally, you and your spouse should tell the children together as it will go a long way toward reassuring them that both parents will remain in their lives. When possible, consulting with an expert, such as a child psychologist, beforehand is a good idea.
Consider how each child is likely to react and be prepared to answer difficult questions. One of the most common questions/concerns centers around the living arrangements. Whenever possible, reach at least a temporary arrangement with your spouse regarding who will remain in the marital residence and where the children will live while the divorce is pending so that when they ask, you have an answer for them. Also be prepared to reassure them that they will still spend time with the other parent, assuming that is the truth.
Once the children know about the divorce, and the process is underway, you will need to navigate the world of kids and divorce. To limit the emotional trauma children often go through when parents divorce, avoid making the following five mistakes:
Making negative comments about your spouse. No matter how hurt or angry you are, do not speak disrespectfully about your children’s other parent. Doing so can make a child feel confused, angry, or even guilty for loving the other parent. It can also make you look bad in the eyes of the court if your divorce is contested.
Asking your children to choose a parent. If your children are older, a court will consider their wishes when making custody decisions; however, that does not mean you should pressure, or even ask, your children to choose one parent over the other.
Arguing around the children. Even the most amicable divorce can hit rough patches along the way. If your divorce is contentious from the start, it will be a bumpy ride throughout the process. Do not allow your children to hear you argue with your soon-to-be ex-spouse. Your children are probably already struggling to manage their own emotions relating to the divorce. They do not need to worry about yours as well nor do they need to be in the middle of the animosity surrounding the end of your marriage.
Telling your children too much. Your children may ask why you are getting a divorce; however, that does not mean you need to share adult information with them. For example, if infidelity or addiction led to the divorce, your children do not need to know those details.
Using your children to gather or disseminate information. It may be tempting to ask your child how your ex is handling the divorce or whether he/she is dating. Resist that temptation as it puts your child in an impossible situation. By the same token, do not ask your child to relay messages or information to your ex. If you want your ex to know something, communicate it yourself.
If you have additional questions about divorce, contact an experienced Fort Worth Custody Lawyer at Boyd Family Law to discuss your legal rights and options and schedule your appointment today.