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How to Tell Your Children You’re Getting Divorced

Posted by Mattis Law, A.P.C. on May 15, 2023 in Divorce

A mother and father sit at a table with their daughter as they all look solomn

In a divorce involving children, telling the kids can be one of the most difficult parts. Nevertheless, it must be done, and it is critical to handle the conversation with care and sensitivity. It is important to choose the right time and setting to break the news to your children. Pick a time when they are well rested, well fed, and not preoccupied with other activities. Talk to your kids in a quiet and private setting where they can feel free to express their feelings.

Importance of Open and Honest Communication

  • Tell your children the truth about what has happened to the marriage. Keep it simple, to the point, and age-appropriate, but give them an honest answer about why you are divorcing.
  • Avoid assigning blame or directing negativity toward the other parent. Instead, if possible, you and your spouse should tell the children together about your plans to divorce to present a united front. This will reinforce that, although the marriage is ending, you are still a family, and they still have both of their parents.
  • Briefly explain the things that will change to prepare them, but also point out the things that will remain the same.
  • Remind your children that you love them, and that will never change. Let them know that the divorce is not their fault.

Addressing Children’s Questions and Feelings

When you tell your children about your upcoming divorce, allowing them to express their feelings about the situation is important. Be empathetic to their concerns and encourage them to talk about it. Really listen to them and acknowledge what they have to say. Children may react differently to the news that their parents are divorcing. They may be angry or upset, or they may feel guilty. Be patient and understanding as they adjust to the information that their family is changing.

Children may have many questions about what the future will look like. For example, they may want to know where the parent who is leaving will live, which parent they will be with and when, who will take them to soccer practice, etc. Give them as many straight answers as you can. If you do not yet know the answers to all their questions regarding physical custody, for example, tell them you are still working out the details, but reassure them that they will still spend time with both parents.

If you and your spouse have a disagreement as to custody, explain to the children that you both want as much time with them as possible, and you are still working it out. Do not discuss financial disagreements around the children and avoid sharing any information that might make the other parent look bad. Avoid conflict with your spouse as much as possible to help preserve a healthy relationship between the children and both parents.

Planning for Co-Parenting

Once the decision to divorce has been made, it is important for both parents to work together to create a co-parenting plan that prioritizes the needs and well-being of the children. Establish clear communication and boundaries, be flexible and open to compromise, and focus on the children’s best interests and needs. If appropriate, consider input from the children in your planning.

How a San Diego Divorce Attorney Can Help

At Mattis Law, A.P.C., we understand that nothing is more stressful than family matters that require an attorney. Our San Diego family law attorney can provide sound legal counsel, guide you through every step of the divorce process, and help ensure it proceeds smoothly. If you are facing divorce in San Diego, contact us at (858) 328-4400.

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