Preparing Your Children for The Divorce
If you and your spouse have made the life changing decision to separate and pursue a divorce, it can be incredibly difficult to share the news with your children and help them process what their current and future situation will look like. Divorce is definitely hard for the two adults involved in the relationship, but it’s even more devastating to children who often feel as if their entire foundation is being shaken. While there is no easy way to navigate the path of dissolving your current family and rebuilding with the pieces, there are ways you can prepare your children to make the upcoming days more bearable.
First, have a gentle conversation with your children about what is happening. If possible, do this together as a group, but if you and your spouse are at a point where sitting down together for this type of discussion isn’t an option, each of you need to set a time to talk with your kids individually. This is the time to assure your children that your love for them hasn’t changed at all, and that although you and their mother/father will no longer be living all together in the same home, they are still loved equally by each parent. Divorce can be a huge period of uncertainty for children, especially those who are younger, since they tend to wonder if your love for them can change just as your love for one another has.
Another key factor in preparing your children for their new situation is to make every effort to keep both their school and their extracurricular activities the same. While this might not work for the long term (i.e., if one spouse chooses to move out of state and will have primary custody, parents live too far apart to manage sporting schedules, etc.) if you can at least keep the majority of your kids’ schedules “normal” for the time immediately following your separation and divorce, it will go a long way in making them feel stable. Telling your child that you are leaving their mother/father, and then putting them through a school change, quitting their favorite teams or activities, etc. and moving them to a new area can be harmful and will make the upcoming months even more difficult as they will have to adjust to an entirely new life instead of a single aspect.
Finally, take the time to discuss the long-term plan for your children. Often, this is the type of conversation where you will want to have your respective lawyers present, and is when you will need to decide what is best for the entire family. Whether joint custody and passing the children back and forth (for those who will continue to live in close proximity to one another) or a setup with one parent having sole custody for the school year and the other for summer months, you need to agree on a plan and be willing to stick to it for the sake of your children’s stability. Also, be sensitive to occasional requirements to alter that plan, such as a wedding of a beloved family member on your spouse’s side that might fall on “your” weekend with the kids, or a trip your children are looking forward to that might fall under your summer period of custody. Being open and friendly with one another, and being willing to have a “give and take” mentality with a custody setup will help your children see that their parents can handle their differences with grace and maturity, and will make them feel secure in knowing they are loved and taken care of, even in their new circumstances.
If you are facing a divorce and are seeking legal representation to walk with you on the journey, Sessums Law Group is here and ready to help. Our newly opened Tampa office serves the Central West Florida region with top-quality family legal services, and we would love to help you get the outcome you want from your case. We know you never expect to go through a divorce, but when the unexpected happens, WE STAND FOR YOU!