Divorce – When, How, and What to Tell Your Children

Apr 1, 2021 | Divorce

The end of a marriage obviously has a profound impact on both spouses; however, it can have an equally deep impact on the children. If it appears that your marriage is headed for divorce and you have children of the marriage, the children will need to be told about the divorce. Dallas divorce attorney at Rita M. Boyd offers some guidance on when, how, and what to tell your children when a divorce is imminent.

Talking to Your Children Will Be Painful

There is no easy way to discuss divorce with your children, regardless of their ages. The reality is that talking to your children about their parents getting divorced is going to be a painful conversation. It is best to accept this reality from the outset and before deciding when, how, and what to tell your kids.

Dad and children

When to Tell Your Children about Divorce

One of the most difficult decision you will need to make is when to discuss your divorce with the children. On one hand, you do not want to bring it up until you are 100 percent certain that the marriage cannot be saved, and divorce is inevitable. On the other hand, you do not want your children to hear about the divorce from anyone other than you. In addition, the age of your children will have a bearing on when you speak to them about divorce. If they are old enough to hear and understand conversations between you and your spouse, or to hear gossip from family members or friends about your marriage, you may wish to address the issue earlier than if your children are too young to comprehend the subtle (or not so subtle) clues. For younger children, however, you should definitely tell them about the divorce once the decision has definitively been made to end the marriage and/or when the divorce process has officially been initiated.

How to Tell Your Children about Divorce

When it comes to deciding how to tell your children about your divorce, planning is the key. Ideally, you and your spouse will sit down together and create a plan to tell the children together. Experts also tend to agree that you should explain the basic concept of the divorce to all the children at the same time. You may wish to talk to some, or all, of the children individually after the initial conversation but telling them all together offers several benefits. First, it reminds them that you are all still a family. Second, it ensures that a younger child does not hear about the divorce from an older child before you have the opportunity to explain. Finally, the children know they can turn to each other after learning about the divorce if they are worried or have questions. 

What to Tell Your Children about Divorce 

Exactly what you tell your children about your divorce will depend considerably on their ages. Regardless of their age, however, there are some things you should stress when explaining the divorce. Make sure you impress upon the children that no one is to blame for the divorce – least of all them. It is equally important, however, not to blame the other parent if you are telling them without him/her present. Keep in mind that no matter what happens in the future, your child’s other parent will always be a parent to your child. For children under the age of five, it is usually best to keep the explanation as simple as possible. Explaining that mom and dad will not be living in the same house, but both still love them, should be the key points. Children between the ages of about six and 12 are better able to understand the concept of divorce yet are often unable to understand and discuss their emotional responses. For children this age it is important to help them understand how they are feeling and find positive ways to express and manage those feelings. If your children are teenagers, they may already know the divorce is coming as they are probably mature enough to recognize the clues. Teenagers are difficult enough to reach without a divorce looming so be prepared for them to be even harder to get through to when you break the news about the divorce. Even teenagers do not need details about your marriage or divorce; however, refusing to answer questions or trying too hard to shelter them from the impact of the divorce could have unintended negative consequences.

Contact a Dallas Divorce Attorney

If you have additional questions or concerns about divorce, contact experienced Dallas divorce attorney Rita M. Boyd, P.C. to discuss your legal rights and options. Call 972-380-8000 to schedule a free consultation or email me.