Why children come first in a divorce
Research has shown that January is a busy time for divorce lawyers as couples who perhaps put a brave face on over Christmas reach a point where they can’t take any more and use the New Year to make a clean break.
For those involved, it can feel overwhelming. But they’re not alone: the Office for National Statistics (ONS) says 42 per cent of all marriages end in divorce.
According to local solicitors and family law specialists Banner Jones,
- who have compiled a helpful leaflet aimed at guiding parents through a break up - it’s vital to get it right when children are involved.
They point out that regardless of the child’s age, they will need reassurance that they will always be cared for and loved by both, no matter what happens.
Time to talk.
It’s surprising how much even very young children pick up and how older children can be affected by their parents’ break up.
Don’t avoid the situation. Instead explain clearly what’s happening, whatever stage your child is at.
Children may be scared and have lots of questions, so be prepared with your answers.
When to tell them
There’s never a good time, but it’s best to wait until you’ve fully discussed and agreed what’s ahead so you’ll avoid confusion or uncertainty. You’ll also be better prepared to answer their questions if you’re clear on what’s happening yourself.
Children will need reassurance and support; they will probably be shocked and upset. So avoid school days, when everyone’s busy in the evening or bed time.
How to tell them.
Try to break the news together, however difficult your relationship may be. Discuss beforehand who will be moving out and when they’ll see the children, so young ones know that they will still be a key part of mum or dad’s life.
When it time to talk it through:
- Keep it simple.
- Avoid too much detail about what went wrong.
- Explain that it’s a mutual decision - don’t point the finger of blame.
- Stress there’s a plan in place, and both parents will be in their lives.
- Remind them of friends or relatives who have experienced separation so they feel less insecure of what the future holds.
Do – and don’t.
Arguing, getting tearful or becoming enraged will just upset children even more.
Explain it’s better to have two happy parents apart than grumpy and upset parents living together – important if they’ve seen you arguing.
DO: Remind them it’s not their fault and that they loved, and help them understand what will happen next.
DON’T: Call each other names, discuss each other’s behaviour or talk about the actual divorce.
And while it’s tempting to offload your own stress to friends on social media, remember what you post can be seen up by relatives, your partners’ friends, workmates and your children; best keep it to yourself.
Banner Jones Solicitors has more than 130 years’ experience of dealing with all kinds of legal issues, including family law, separation and divorce.
Visit Banner Jones offices in Sheffield, Chesterfield or Mansfield, visit www.bannerjones.co.uk or call 0330 017 6305.