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How to Tell Kids About Divorce

Posted By Attorney Jim Cairns || 14-Jul-2012

Now that you and your spouse are certain about your plans for an uncontested, simple, no-fault divorce it's time to tell the kids. This is a discussion which should be done with both parents and the child(ren) present.

Sit-down with your spouse and plan how to deliver the news in the most empathetic and supportive manner. Your children will be able to accept your decision better when you are delivering a caring message about your divorce. This is not the time to start blaming your spouse, yelling or talking about the legal details. Be fair to your kids and don't make them pick a side, remember they love you both. Using the word we is helpful in showing that both of you have come to a mutual decision and are not blaming each other for the divorce..

Children will need to know that they will still have a family after the divorce, just a different kind of family. Also, it's important to let them know that the divorce is not their fault. Don't let your kids fall into the trap of self-blame, such as thinking "If I only had gotten better grades my parents wouldn't be divorcing." Reassurance is vital during this time. Tell your children that you will always love them and that parents and children don't divorce each other.

Be truthful, but keep the first conversation about divorce simple with all of your children present. Children don't need to know all the details about your divorce. This is especially true for younger children or if you have both younger and more mature children. The second conversation can be with just the older children who may have some questions that are not age-appropriate for their younger siblings.

After you have broken the news to the kids it's time to let them share their feelings about your divorce with you. Listen and don't dismiss what they have to say – though it may not be easy to hear. Reactions to divorce do vary among children, from an angry outburst, to tears to dead silence. Keep in mind that children don't necessarily have the vocabulary to express their feelings about divorce and may need some help. Once again, reassure your children and tell them that you love them and offer lots of emotional and physical hugs and affection.

Be prepared for a series of questions that children often ask their divorcing parents. Here is a brief list of some potential questions:

  • Are you mad at me?
  • If I behave will you get back together?
  • Will you still be my mom/dad?
  • Where will mom, dad, and I live?
  • What will happen to my friends?
  • What will happen to my stuff?
  • Where will I live?
  • Where will I go to school?

If you and your spouse are struggling with how to tell your children about your divorce, a spiritual advisor or mental health professional may be able to help. In addition, look around your area for parenting classes which cover the topic of divorce and children. Also, you may want to look into divorce support groups for both you and your children.

The least upsetting way to get a divorce is to get an uncontested, simple, no-fault divorce. Attorney Cairns is here to help you get started with the process with a quick and easy uncontested divorce. Contact Attorney James Cairns for a free initial consultation at 888.863.9115. For an immediate free virtual consultation, visit our free Divorce Wizard. The DIVORCE WIZARD will analyze and qualify your case for an online Pennsylvania divorce, calculate your legal fees, and let you file your case immediately. It's just like sitting in our office for a free consultation. Also, read client email testimonials and reviews on Avvo.