Divorce is much more challenging when children are involved. It seems like there are no good ways to broach the subject or prepare for their reaction to the news. This short guide can help you, and your soon-to-be-ex explain your divorce to your child.
Make it a Team Effort
You and your ex will need to co-parent once the divorce is finalized, so it is important that you approach this difficult task as a team. When you tell your children that you are getting a divorce, it is important that both of you be there to support them.
Choose an Appropriate Time
Timing can be critical when talking to your children about divorce. You do not want to bring up such a delicate subject right before they have to be somewhere else, like school. The ideal time to bring up divorce is on a Friday night. This way, you have the whole weekend to answer any questions they may have and to comfort them. Your kids will have many questions regarding custody and living situations.
Choose the Right Words
Divorce is a tricky subject with children, so you want to be sure that you are saying the right things. The three most important things to emphasize are:
- This is not your fault. It’s important that your children know that the decision to divorce was between you and your spouse and that they did nothing to cause this. It’s vital that no one place blame in this situation.
- It’s okay to be sad. Your kids need to know that it is okay and normal to feel a wide range of emotions when confronted with their parents’ divorce. Let them know that they can talk to you about their feelings no matter what.
- We are still a family. Your family dynamic may be changing, but you are still a family. Your kids need to know that they will still have both parents after the divorce is finalized.
Our experienced family law attorney in St. Charles, MO, is here to assist you with your divorce. Contact us today to speak with our attorney.
A question I often receive from clients beginning the divorce process is whether they can begin dating. The answer to this question is always specific to that client’s situation, but, overall when considering whether to start dating, during your divorce proceeding, here are some considerations:
- What type of “dating” behavior is problematic to a divorce proceeding? Typically, when in a divorce proceeding, cohabitating with a new significant other, introducing a new significant other to children early in the new relationship, and continuing a relationship with an individual with whom you had an extramarital affair, can complicate divorce proceedings or jeopardize a litigant’s position in their case.
- Is my spouse making allegations that I had an affair that resulted in the breakdown of the marriage? In Missouri, proof of marital misconduct can affect the distribution of property and debt, so depending upon one’s goal in dividing marital assets this can be an issue. Moreover, if you are in a contested or high conflict dissolution case, use common sense and do not engage in conduct that will cast you in a negative light. Judges are human, and sometimes when a litigant has engaged in unsavory behavior, although it is not relevant to the proceeding, it will cast that litigant in a negative light. Only you know how much you have to lose (or gain) financially from your divorce proceeding- don’t set yourself up for failure by flaunting an extramarital affair.
- Am I requesting maintenance or is my spouse requesting maintenance? Lavishing expensive presents, trips, meals out, or financially contributing to the household of a new boyfriend/ girlfriend during your divorce can be problematic. Remember your bank records and credit card statements are easily obtainable- leaving a trail that demonstrates disposable income for a new love can come back to haunt you.
- Is there a custody battle? Introducing a new significant other to children is always a difficult, but if you are in the midst of a contested custody case, it takes on new considerations. Introducing your children to a new love interest will introduce that individual to your spouse, who will discover that individual’s criminal history, driving record, social habits, etc. It is important to consider these ramifications prior to introductions! Finding out from your spouse’s attorney that your new significant other has a criminal history, or a sordid past, is not a pleasant surprise or productive to your custody case.