How to Tell Your Children About Divorce
Whether your divorce is amicable or contentious, when and how to tell your children can be a difficult
issue. We at Portland-Divorcelawyer.com understand that. Your children may already know that there
are difficulties in your home life and marriage, but you may be surprised at the level of their
sophistication and knowledge about divorce. Even if they are relieved to hear that a difficult home life is
about to change, do not ever underestimate the degree to which your divorce can impact your children.
The adults are not alone in feeling the stress and hurt of a strained family situation. You must take
special steps to insulate your children and help them through the divorce process.
Portland divorce lawyers are there to help you through the divorce process. There is not one simple
outline that provides all of the right answers and information on how to guide your children through the
divorce process. When and how to tell your children about the divorce will depend upon your individual
family dynamics, the maturity of your children, the ages of your children, the conflict level in your house,
and your own individual preferences. If you are unsure of how to present this issue, it is a good idea to
obtain professional help to do so. Many counselors are well versed in addressing divorce issues with
children and they are available to guide you through this process with your children.
The type of divorce situation presenting itself in your family will have some impact on how and when
you present this issue to your children. If you and your spouse are amicable, and your divorce is low
stress, your children may not even be aware of the possibility of a break up. We recommend a qualified
Portland divorce lawyer to protect you throughout the divorce process. While that means that the
divorce conflict has not impacted upon the children as of yet, it does not mean that it will not. Your
children might be even more affected by the news that you are divorcing if they were unaware that
there were problems in your marriage. If you or your spouse has been working with a counselor, either
together or separately, that counselor can lay out some simple strategies on how to tell the children.
Basic information that you want to discuss with the counselor is whether you tell the children together
or separately and what information you can or should give the children about what their living
arrangements will be in the future.
It is never acceptable to disclose that you and your spouse are getting a divorce when you are in the
middle of a conflict. To place blame on your spouse, or to provide information in a way that conveys
blame or fault may make you feel better in the short run. In the long run it will hurt your children, and it
will impact your long term relationship with the children's other parent. Also, courts frown on providing
children with adult level information and details about your divorce. Do so and you risk hurting your
legal case, if your divorce will be presented to a judge.
Most counselors will support a joint parental communication to the children about the pending divorce.
However, a joint discussion about divorce with the children does require that you and your spouse be
able to maintain a basic level of civility, if for no other reason than to maintain your children's peace of
mind. If you and your spouse cannot be civil, do not attempt to discuss this issue together with the
If your marriage has been rife with conflict, your children may be aware of or even welcoming the relief
of a parental separation and/or divorce. Do not be surprised if you find out that your children know
more than you thought, even if you have been attempting to conceal the conflict from them.
The issues that your children want to be reassured about involve where they will live, where they will go
to school, whether their activities and daily lives will be disrupted, and the degree to which they will be
able to maintain their relationship with each parent. Teenagers can be particularly vulnerable and
sensitive to disruption in their lives and schedules. If you are able to work out a parenting schedule with
your spouse, it is acceptable to share that with the children to reassure them. It also can be acceptable
to involve the children in the process of setting a schedule. However, that issue can be very delicate.
You do not want children dictating to the adults and you do not want the children to have limited
contact with either parent.
Above all else, do not discuss marital fault issues or the reason for the divorce with your children. Even
if you think that your spouse is the worse miscreant on the planet, that spouse is your children's parent.
Your children want to and are entitled to love both parents. That a spouse cannot make a marriage
work does not dispossess them of the right to be a parent. More important, it does not dispossess the
children of the right to love that parent and have a relationship with the parent.
Consider that you may have a range of reactions from your children about the pending divorce. They
may not be surprised. Or, they could be upset and shocked. In many cases, even when they are not
surprised, the children might be angry or blame themselves. Work with a professional to address all of
these emotional reactions. Your children will adjust to your divorce, if you provide the proper guidance
and assistance during that process. Let Portland divorce lawyers take the weight of dealing with your
spouse in the divorce proceedings, so you can focus that much more on your children.