Communicating with Your Child Through Divorce

Smiling mother and daughter baking cookies standing at table in kitchen. Visual concept for family law blog on the subject of communication with your child through your divorce.

Divorce doesn’t only impact you and your spouse — it also can affect your child’s emotional and mental well-being. Importantly, open communication is essential to help your child through the divorce process. Talking with your child about what they can expect moving forward can play a significant role in how they manage their feelings and process the divorce. It can also put their mind at ease and ensure they are emotionally prepared for the many changes that may lay ahead.

Here are a few tips on how to talk to your child about divorce throughout the legal process:

1. Talk with Your Child Together if Possible

It’s best to talk to your child about the divorce together with your spouse, if possible. Having a joint conversation with both parents can have many benefits for your child. Significantly, it can limit confusion, provide your child with a sense of stability, and show that you are still a unified front with their other parent. It also reassures your child that the divorce is not their fault and that both their parents will continue to work together even when they no longer live in the same household.

2. Have an Age-Appropriate Discussion

There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to the question of how to talk to your child about divorce. The discussion should be age-appropriate and tailored to your child’s development. For instance, while a younger child may not be able to express their feelings as well as an older child or understand the complexities of divorce, it’s best to keep the conversation straightforward. The older a child is, the more questions they may have throughout the process — and the more they will be able to understand what divorce means.

3. Communicate a Sense of Calm During the Process

While it’s ok to show emotion, it’s crucial to your child’s well-being to maintain and communicate a sense of calm throughout the divorce process. No matter how contentious your divorce is, you should never speak disparagingly or make negative remarks to your child about their other parent. To reduce the amount of tension you might feel as your divorce case proceeds, you may consider using mediation to resolve the issues that must be decided in your case — and lessen the impact of divorce on your children.

4. Let Your Children Know What Life Will Be Like After Divorce

When you talk to your child about divorce, you should also let them know what life will be like after the legal proceedings are over. Whether you are remaining in the same home or relocating to a different town, the changes ahead can be scary for a child. Let your child know where they will live, how much time they will be spending with each parent, and what school they will be attending. If you aren’t certain about these things, let them know you will inform them as soon as a decision has been made.

5. Be Honest When Answering Your Child’s Questions

Depending on their age, your child may have many questions about the divorce process. When considering how to talk to your child about divorce, it’s critical to be honest in order to reduce the anxiety and anger your child might be feeling. Notably, being open and honest with your child about their questions can sometimes be a balancing act with providing them with age-appropriate information — and protecting them from the details of your divorce. While a child should be informed about how the divorce will impact their living arrangements and other changes that can impact their schedule, they should not be told about the circumstances that caused the marriage to fall apart.

6. Be Open to Communication Throughout the Divorce Process

It’s vital to keep the lines of communication open with your child throughout the divorce process — and beyond the transition period. Your child may have new questions and feelings about what has happened as time goes on. Listen actively to your child’s concerns and encourage them to express their emotions. Let them know that their feelings are valid and be available to provide them with comfort and support when they need it. If your child is having a difficult time adapting to the various changes in their life after divorce, you may also consider family therapy to help ensure they have the tools they need to adjust.

Contact an Experienced Missouri Divorce and Family Law Attorney

It can be difficult to know how to talk to your child about divorce. If you are divorcing with children, a compassionate and skillful divorce and family law attorney can provide the emotional support you need and guide you through the legal process. Divorce and family law attorney Mark A. Wortman provides trusted representation to clients in the greater Kansas City, Missouri area for divorce matters and a wide variety of family law issues. To schedule a confidential consultation to learn how he can help with your case, please contact him today online or by calling (816) 523-6100.

Categories: Divorce