Children of all ages are generally upset when they find out their parents are getting a divorce. This is true even when they have heard their parents arguing and there is tension in the home. They do not want to experience the disruption of their family life as they know it.
A few exceptions may be if there have been issues of a parent’s addiction or domestic violence. In those cases, children may feel relieved, knowing that something is being done to make things more comfortable for them.
What Kids Want from Their Parents During a Divorce
Parents can provide their children with answers that may help them get through the divorce in as positive a way as possible. Children’s reactions are, of course, different depending on their age at the time of the divorce. Generally, children would like to know:
- The truth about what will happen. They need to know more than just the parents are separating. They want to know what that means for them.
- Where will they live? Will they move or stay in the family home they have known?
- Will they have to change schools? If so, where is their new school?
- What will happen to their group of friends?
- What about their extracurricular activities? Dance lessons? Music lessons? Soccer and other team sports?
- How much time will they spend with the other parent?
- Whether or not they get a say in where they live. Can they choose which parent they want to live with? Although children ages 12 and over may talk to a Judge and express their opinion in the divorce, children need to know that the Judge makes the final decision based on all the evidence and what they believe is in the best interest of the children. This fact is hard for many children to accept
What Parents Need to Avoid
There are two major issues parents need to avoid with their children during a divorce or separation:
1) Children do not want to hear one parent say bad things about the other. Children realize that they are the product of those two parents. If one parent calls the other horrible and rotten, children may believe they also must be horrible and rotten. Or children may become aligned with one parent and then counseling may be needed to restore their relationship with the other parent.
2) Children should not be used as messengers between the parents. This is true even if the message involves simple things about a visitation arrangement. These arrangements should be made by the parents.
How a Collaborative Divorce Helps
In a collaborative divorce, parents have the assistance of a child therapist or mental health expert who helps the parents make the best decisions for their children.
Contact an Experienced Dallas Family Law Attorney for More Information About Divorce.