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How to support your children though a divorce

The year 2020 has been a pretty brutal one for most people. Some people have been able to find some comfort in the bonds of family and friendship. For others, however, those bonds have been stretched to breaking point. If you’re in the latter group, here is some advice on how to support your children through a divorce.

Have a basic plan in place before you break the news

For a child, there are no positives to a divorce. This means that you need to focus on minimizing negatives. Ideally, you want to be able to show your child that, effectively, nothing is going to change for them. If that is not possible, then explain how you’ll minimize the negative impact of any changes.

It’s best if you and your partner have a complete plan ready before you break the news to your child. At the same time, however, you want to make sure that they hear the news from you, not social media. For practical purposes, therefore, it may be best just to outline your plan and then tell your child. Commit to keeping them in the loop as your plans develop.

Involve your child in discussions/mediation

Wrapping up a marriage almost always involves lengthy discussions, especially where children are involved. For many couples, mediation sessions are a practical and affordable way of keeping these discussions civil and productive. These are probably going to be where you and your partner iron out the practicalities of your split.

Some of those practicalities will have a massive impact on your child. This means that, whenever possible, they should have age-appropriate input into the discussions. They don’t have to know everything. In fact, it’s often better that they don’t. They certainly shouldn’t see their parents openly arguing. They do, however, need a reasonable degree of information and involvement.  

Try to maintain a consistent routine

Right now, COVID19 is probably causing more than enough disruption to their lives, especially when it comes to co-parenting through a pandemic. This means that it’s more important than ever to maintain stability as much as you can.

As a minimum, stick to regular mealtimes and nap/bedtimes. Resist any temptation to try to soften the blow by excess use of treats such as sweets and late nights.

If COVID19 means that you and your partner are stuck with each other’s company for longer than you’d like, keep it civil. You’re probably going to have disagreements. Recognize this in advance, own the fact and agree on a process for dealing with them privately. If you’re able to move out physically, have a plan in place to maintain contact, even if it’s only virtually.

Stay consistent with discipline

This is really a sub-point of keeping to a consistent routine. It is, however, important enough to deserve a mention on its own. Children handle divorce differently. In fact, the same child can handle divorce differently on different days. This is particularly true if they’re going through a lot of hormonal changes.

Recognize the difference between understanding their feelings and handing them control. Maintaining consistent rules and boundaries may be challenging in the short term. It will, however, help your child’s long-term recovery and personal growth.

Author Bio

K J Smith Solicitors are specialists in family law, experienced in all matters relating to divorce, civil partnerships, cohabitation disputes and collaborative law.