How best to support children during the Divorce Process
Very often with divorcing couples, particularly after a long marriage, there are often children involved, and in a way, they will go through the divorce process with you. It is so important that you treat them in a sensitive, age appropriate manner and understand that how you decide to do this will have repercussions for many years.
Below are some pieces of advice which we hope will assist you during this difficult process.
Be prepared for anger.
Very few children want their parents to separate, and learning that this will happen, can cause them to express anger and start behaving differently. This behaviour can be difficult for parents to manage as on one hand you need to maintain discipline, but on the other, you have to have sympathy with how they are feeling.
It is important to speak to children about how they are feeling and for them to know they are very much loved by both parents, however, they must also be clear on boundaries, and what is and isn’t acceptable behaviour.
Put your children first.
Quite often, we see parents who seem to forget their children are involved in the divorce too, and neglect to handle their thoughts, feelings and emotions. This is not of course done purposely, but it is important to take a step back, reflect, and make sure that the children are at the forefront of your mind.
If possible, tell them about the divorce together.
This is not always easy and often not possible, however, if you are able to, speaking to the children together can be very beneficial to them. It shows that both parents love and care about them, and are able to be civil around each other and stand united during these difficult times.
Do not use them as go-betweens.
It is so important that communication takes place between parents and not through children. Asking children to pass messages between you, or hounding them for information about the parent when they return home after spending time with them is not appropriate and is confusing and upsetting for children.
It is important for children to not feel like ‘piggy in the middle’ when their parents have separated, and, they should not ever feel like they have split loyalties between parents.
Arrangements for contact, unless they are teenagers, should be made between parents. It is not fair on children to have the responsibly of deciding which parent to spend time with and when, the sooner that a routine is in place for children to spend time with both parents, the better.
Ensuring that any arrangements in relation to the children are maintained
Whether this relates to their daily routine, homework timetable, or after school activities, ensure these are maintained so far as is possible. Children need stability at this time, so keeping the same routine in both households is to be encouraged and will provide the children with the security they need.
If you make arrangements for contact, make sure you both stick to them. Your children will be waiting to spend time with the other parent so do not deprive them of this. It is also important that you do not turn up late to collect children, or not turn up at all either of these situations will just leave them feeling confused and frustrated.
Our family solicitors are experts in dealing with all aspects of divorce, separation, and children. If you are considering divorce or separation and need advice and assistance, contact us now.