While divorce is difficult on every member of a family, children often
take the longest to adjust to the changes. If possible, speak with your
spouse to agree on what information the children are to be given about
the divorce. It is always wise to seek professional guidance. If agreement
is not possible try to delay advising the children until after obtaining
professional guidance from a qualified counselor, psychologist, or parenting expert.
While children will have questions about how a divorce will affect their
lives, parents should avoid discussing the details of the case with children,
including the conduct or alleged conduct of the other party, asking children
to pick parents, read pleadings, or become involved in the case. You do
not want children to be scarred by what they are told. We cannot stress
enough how important it is to think about what the children need to know
about the divorce and what information should be kept for the parties
only. Court’s often take a dim view of one party trying to influence
the children against the other party.
Keep in mind that children at different developmental levels will have
different understandings of the meaning of divorce.
Here are some things to consider:
The Washington divorce attorneys at McKinley Irvin have decades of experience
handling family law cases and are well known as the premier divorce firm
in the Pacific Northwest. If you are considering a divorce and you have
children, we are available to help.
Contact our firm
to get in touch with a member of our team and schedule an initial case review. We serve clients in Washington from six office locations in Puyallup, Vancouver,
Everett, Bellevue, Tacoma, and Seattle.
Keep it simple. Your children should not be a sounding board for adult problems that
aren’t their fault or responsibility. Tell your child what is going
on, but leave out details that they may not understand or don’t
really need to know about. This could lead to confusion or potentially
make them feel like they did something to cause the divorce when in reality
these issues are outside of their control.
Reassure your child that they are not to blame. Children may feel as though their parents’ split was their fault.
When talking to your child, assure them that your decision has nothing
to do with anything they did, and let them know that they will always
have the love and support of both of their parents no matter what.
Make yourself available to talk. Obtain professional guidance. After you have told your child about your
plans to divorce, you should expect them to have questions and sometimes
worries. Make sure that you pay attention to both their immediate reactions
and how they handle the information in the coming weeks and months. Make
sure your child knows that you are available to talk to them (with limits
per above) and comfort them when they need it.
Avoid criticizing your spouse in front of your child. Divorce is an emotional process, but keep your feelings of anger or bitterness
far away from your children. Children have enough to worry about without
having to feel like one of their parents is to blame for what is happening
to the family, or that one of their parents is no longer worthy of love.
This could really end up hurting your child in the long run, and their
happiness and wellbeing should be the number one focus. Also, from a legal
standpoint, badmouthing your soon-to-be ex in front of your children can
also complicate your case, especially if custody is contested.