6 Steps for Navigating Divorce with Children
The dissolution of a marriage is painful even if the only people involved are you and your spouse. If you have children together, it makes things infinitely more complicated— and it can be overwhelming trying to balance your own feelings with the need to help your kids navigate the transition as smoothly as possible. We’ve put together a list of suggestions to get you started, and some resources to help you if you need them.
Divorce With Children Doesn’t Have to Be Messy
Navigating a divorce can be tricky, especially when kids are involved. That’s why we suggest hiring a trusted attorney, like the ones at Lebovitz Law, LLC, who can council you on explaining the divorce process to your children while ensuring your divorce goes as smooth as possible. We understand that the way you talk to your kids about your divorce will change depending on their ages and personalities, but some things are universal. We gathered a list of the most common pieces of advice for getting through the divorce process when kids are involved.
Don’t make them choose sides. This sounds like a no-brainer, but it may be harder than you think. Keeping blame and negativity out of your conversations with your kids may be difficult when your emotions are running high, but it’s important to be clear that just because you and your spouse are separating doesn’t mean the children are going to lose one of you.
Keep their routines the same. The more aspects of their lives continue on unchanged, the better they’ll be able to adapt to the things that are changing. Even if you or your spouse have to move, trying to keep the kids in the same school and activities can help preserve a sense of normalcy.
Keep each parent involved in the kids’ lives. Following on from the first point, it’s important for your children to continue to have a relationship with your spouse, even if you no longer will. Even if one parent has custody rights and the other has limited visitation, preserving the kids’ relationship with the other parent will help them feel safe.
Let them respond however they need to. Many kids respond to the news of their parents’ divorce with shock, anger, sorrow, or anxiety— and they will need support navigating those emotions, both from you and from others. Don’t assume you know how they’re feeling or what they’re most worried or angry about— let them tell you what’s going on for them, and affirm for them that their feelings are okay.
Assure them they’re not alone. Tell them you love them, that your spouse loves them, that they’re not at fault for what’s happening, and most importantly, that they’re not alone. Have a counselor lined up for them to talk to, even if they claim not to need or want one; a neutral space with a listening ear is important for everyone going through a divorce, including the kids.
Get the support you need, too. Focusing entirely on your kids won’t help you if you’re unprepared to deal with your own emotions and reactions to the divorce. Parents need a lot of support, not only legally but emotionally as well, when navigating a divorce, and it’s more important than almost any other tip on this list that you not seek that support from your children— even if they seem to want to fill that role for you. Friends, mental health professionals, and family can all be there for you, and are more appropriate sources for support than your children.
Where Can I Learn More?
Sesame Street doesn’t shy away from the tough stuff; they have a section on dealing with divorce, too. https://sesamestreetincommunities.org/topics/divorce/
And at Divorce Care, you can put in your zip code and find a list of support groups in your area:
Get Help with Dividing Debt During a Divorce in Maryland from The Attorneys at Lebovitz Law, LLC
Whether you are searching for an experienced lawyer to assist with your divorce, negotiating child support in Maryland or other issues, The attorneys at Lebovitz Law, LLC can help. To learn more about how we can assist you, please contact us today.