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Supporting your Children through the Divorce Process

Supporting your children through the divorce process

When considering a divorce, here at Gregorian Emerson Family Law Solicitors we understand the need for outstanding legal advice and as experienced divorce lawyers in Guildford, we are on hand to provide you with clear, expert advice combining our unique psychological approach and in depth analysis to really help us understand your dispute.

When facing a new future, whether you have thought about it for a while, or whether it has come as a complete shock to you, will throw up many emotions and feelings that you will not have expected.  One of the most common we hear from our clients is how they fear the future, whether emotionally or financially, or how they fear having to deal with new environments such as the courts.  We can help to put your mind at rest and explain the whole process to you, in layman friendly terms and answer any questions you may have.  With many years of expertise in this field we will be with you every step of the way and guide you throughout the process.

If you are divorcing after several years of marriage, there is a distinct possibility there will be children involved and these children will go through the divorce process with you.  It is vital you handle them in a sensitive, age appropriate manner and undertand that how you deal with them will have repercussions for many years.  We have put together some of the main points we consider important when dealing with your children through a divorce, that we feel will help you all to navigate through it successfully.

Put your children first

This may sound like common sense, but it is surprising just how many people forget their children are involved in the divorce too and and neglect to handle their thoughts, feelings and emotions.  It is all to easy for your children to feel one, or both parents are rejecting them and they may feel frustrated, annoyed or confused with the current situation, so ensure they are front and centre of any decisions you need to make.

If possible, tell them about the divorce together

Once you, as parents, have decided that a divorce is now the only solution, it is important that you both explain the situation to the children together.   We have seen on many occasions that children are far more accepting of divorce and are able to deal with it more positively where both parents behave calmly around each other, especially at this initial stage of telling them.  By presenting a united front and calmly explaining the reasons behind the divorce, in an age appropriate way, it will be hugely beneficial in how they deal with and process the information.  Being able to all sit down to have this conversation is demonstrating to your children that you will be able to successfully co-parent them together.  It will also be showing them that no one parent is to blame.  Keeping this initial conversation simple is key, don't overload your children with too much information at this point.  They will need to process the knowledge that you are divorcing and even if it does not come as a surprise to them they will still be overwhelmed.  Keep the conversation to anything that pertains to the children.  Ensure they know that they can ask any quesions they have, whether immediately, or days/weeks in the future.  One thing that we, as expert divorce lawyers Guildford have realised over the years, is that children see and hear a lot more than you think they do! - so be prepared for questions you will not have thought of.  

Make sure they know they are not to blame

Children are very good at blaming themselves for your divorce.  They will feel that maybe if they had behaved differently it wouldn't have happened, or that if they behave a certain way now you will reconcile together. You need to both ensure the children are aware that none of this is their fault and that although things will change, you are still two parents that love them.  They will also need to know about living arrangements, so it will be helpful to have had a conversation about this together, before you discuss it with the children.  They will express concerns if they are expected to move house, or school etc, so you need to be prepared for this.  Children are also often scared that they will lose contact with much loved family members, especially if a move is planned.  Make sure they know that, where possible, you will be maintaining contact with grandparents, aunts, uncles etc.  They will also want to hear that both of you still love them and will still be looking after them and providing for them.  If one parent is moving out, let them know that whilst they may not see them physically every day, contact can still be maintained through phone calls, social media etc. and let them know what arrangements you have decided together to put in place for physical contact.  Be patient whilst they take all this information in, especially if the divorce has come as a shock to them.  And make sure they know you will answer all their questions, however small they may seem to you. 

Be Honest with them

Whatever they ask you, answer it honestly.  You dont have to go into the finer details, but if they have asked a question then they deserve an honest answer.  Keep it age appropriate and be patient too - you may find yourself answering the same question over and over again, but they need to hear the same answer as many times as they need to ask the question for reassurance, continuity and security.  They need to know they can ask you anything.  Involve them in family discussions and where possible, let them help in making new arrangements - i.e. what nights they stay with each parent around their after school acivities etc.  Encourage them to ask questions, listen to their emotions and accept that, for them, this is a loss and allow them to express grief.

Do not use them as go-betweens

This is so important as you will be confusing the children if you are asking them to pass messages between you, or to spy on the other parent during their time with them.  Let them enjoy their time together and do not put unnecessary pressure on the children to behave in this manner.  If your relationship, as parents, has deteriorted and you can no longer be amicable, do not put your children in the middle.  Find another adult to act as intermediary, not your children.  Also do not discuss your ex-partner negatively in front of the children, whatever your personal feelings they should not be party to them.  If you need to vent find a babysitter and go out with a trusted friend.  As divorce lawyers we have many years of experience in this field of law and can help you through the process.

When you make arrangements - stick to them!

Whether this relates to their daily routine, homework timetable, after school activities etc - if you have made an arrangement keep to it!  Your children need stability at this time, so keeping the same routine in both households (ie. mealtimes, bedtimes etc) is to be encouraged and will provide the children with the security they need.  If you make arrangements for contact, stick to them - your children will be waiting to spend time with the other parent so do not deprive them of this, or alternatively not turn up, as either of these situations will just leave them feeling confused and frustrated and can be the start of bad behaviours creeping in.

Be prepared for anger

Your children, for the most part, will not want you to separate.  They will be afraid that if one parent has left the other may too.  They will wonder what they could have done, or do, differently and all this can cause them to express anger and start a pattern of bad behaviours.  You need to handle this firmly, but with love.  Discipline is important, but undertanding why they are angry can help to alleviate the sitution and ensure that any anger issues can be dealt with quickly.  You can discuss what is and isnt acceptable, what boundaries need to be in place and why and find ways to move forward with them in a healthy way.

One thing you can be sure of - you are not the first parents to go through a divorce and you will certainly not be the last.  Children can and do come through a divorce and maintain healthy relationships with both parents.  As long as you can both put your children first and aim to communicate effectively, then there is no reason your divorce cannot be handled successfully and your children become settled in their new future.

Whatever legal situation you are currently experiencing, it’s reassuring to know you’ve got the very best in legal expertise, combined with psychological understanding, to maximise your chances of a successful outcome, whether that be in reaching agreements, mediation, or litigation and supporting you throughout the process.

Whatever your query or concern, we are here to help and with our expertise as divorce lawyers Guildford you can count on us to help you reach a conclusion.

Need expert divorce law advice?  Call us today on 01483 826 470.

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