Telling children that you are divorcing is one of the hardest parts of the divorce process. In almost every case, the children think it is somehow their fault, or at least believe they are partially to blame. One child may think, “If I had only made the team…” or “If I had only gotten better grades…” then my parents would have stayed together. It is important to let the children know that the divorce is not their fault, and that they had nothing to do with their parents’ decision to part. It is also important not to let the children hear you disparage the other parent and blame them for the divorce.
Some children may think they will have to go to court and testify about where they want to live or which parent they “pick.” Children need to be reassured that this will not happen. Although a child aged 12 or older may be asked to talk to the Judge at some point, it will not be for quite some time so does not need to be addressed in the initial meeting of telling the children you plan on divorcing.
Tell the Children Together
No matter how difficult it may be, experts agree that both parents should put their animosity toward each other behind them for long enough to sit down with the children together and tell them about the divorce. For the children, their entire world is falling apart. They need to know that they are not being abandoned and that both parents still love them and will be around for them.
Most Texas courts have standing orders that the parents are not supposed to disparage the other one in front of the children or within the children’s hearing. Disparagement happens all too frequently, and the courts hope to minimize it as much as possible.
Benefits of a Collaborative Divorce When Telling the Children
In a collaborative divorce, there is the benefit of having a team work together. There is a mental health specialist and perhaps a child specialist. All are involved in the meeting with the parents and the attorneys. The attorneys help coach the parents on how best to break the news of the divorce to the children, and how best to handle the difficult questions the children are going to ask. It is a much more civilized way to approach divorce.