Here at Gregorian Emerson Family Law Solicitors we deal with Child law advice Guildford on a daily basis. It is a sad statistic of today's society that around 1 in 3 marriages will end in divorce and it is a painful thing to go through, not just for you as the adults, but for any children involved too.
There is no 'good' time to discuss your impending divorce with your children. When to tell them will depend on a lot of different factors, including things like their ages. Don't tell the children until you, as parents, are both 100% sure that the marriage is over and beyond saving. Do not tell the children that divorce is an option if you are still working on saving it. This will just confuse and upset your children and may cause them mental harm in the long run.
Once you have worked through the situation and made the decision together to end your marriage, then you will need to sit down with your children and talk to them about it. They may have already suspected that a divorce was imminent, again it depends on ages etc, but it will still come as a shock to them to realise that it is actually happening. Bare in mind at this point that although you and your partner may have spent months discussing a divorce and sorting things out before telling the children, for them it is just the start of a journey which they did not ask for.
The most important aspect in all this, will be your child's need for security and reassurance. They need to know that they are not responsible for this and that, although you two may be separating, their relationship will continue with BOTH of you. Obviously if there are safeguarding issues in your case then this will be different.
Their responses will vary from complete silence to an explosive outburst. There are likely to be tears, anger, bravado, fear, even promises of good behaviour if you stay together. Keep calm and explain, in child friendly terms they will understand, that you know it hurts, but that you are both there for them. Make it clear that this is not a decision based on anything they have done, but a decision between two adults. Be prepared as they are likely to respond in a way you didn't expect.
If you have more than one child you will also need to consider whether you tell your children individually or all together. This will depend largely on their personalities and as their parents, you are best placed to make this decision. With many years expertise in the child law advice Guildford field we can help you with any queries or questions you may have.
Telling your children in their home environment is always a good idea. They will be more able to express their emotions in the privacy of their own home and feel safer whilst the information sinks in. They will have questions that you may not have thought about, or expected at this point. Expect the unexpected is a good mantra to have at this time. They WILL surprise you and may have some questions you couldn't possibly foresee – things like 'where is the dog/cat going to live?' As experts in Child law advice Guildford, we have come to realise that children are full of surprises in situations like this.
If you can tell the children together, without it becoming combative, then this is also good for them too. It will show them that, although you will no longer be together, you can still parent together and provide them with some reassurance that the future, although different, will be OK.
Allow plenty of time for the conversation and the aftermath. Don't have the initial conversation just before bedtime, or on the school run etc. You need time for your child to absorb and process this information and to allow plenty of time afterwards for the questions they will think of and a possible delayed reaction too. This won't be just in the hour after, it will go on for weeks and you may find yourself answering the same questions over and over again.
Make sure that you make them aware of future arrangements and plans that you have already agreed on. Things like which partner is leaving the marital home, whether a move is planned, a school change etc. Try to keep things as normal as possible during this transition period and let your child know that their school, friends, after school activities etc will not be changing immediately, if at all. Obviously this is age appropriate, a two year old will not need, or be able to process, as much information as a ten year old. Keep it simple though and do not overload them with information in the first instance.
Be honest with your children. You can let them know you are upset about the break up too, but don't put them in a position where they need to be the ones comforting you. It is your job to comfort them and not the other way around. They do not need to hear how either of you feel about the other, no matter how tempting it is to do so. You should not use your children to pass messages to one another, or to 'spy' on them and relay information back to you. And you should never badmouth each other in front of your children, ever! They love both of you and you are the two closest people to them in their little worlds, even if you no longer love each other.
The MOST important point of all this, is to reassure your children that you will BOTH continue to be their parents. You will always be their Mum and Dad, even if you no longer love each other, you will both always love them.
For all Child law advice Guildford questions please contact us on 01483 826 470 where we will be happy to discuss your personal situation and give ypu the very best in advice and care.
Based in Guildford and Cobham, Surrey and Central London. If you have a family dispute that needs resolving, we are here to help and look forward to your call. Please call us on 01483 826 470.