Where to Start?
The decision to divorce is a difficult one, especially when you have children. Going through such an emotional process is not without its challenges, and one of your concerns may be how to prepare your children for the road ahead. It is not uncommon to feel anxious and uncertain about telling your children that you and their other parent are divorcing. You are not alone in this. Many people struggle with knowing where to start.
One of the key elements to preparing your children for a divorce is to first identify their needs and the needs of the family. Divorce is an incredibly overwhelming process, and there are a lot of things to consider. Even identifying your own needs during this time can feel impossible. However, many of your children’s needs must be identified and legally provided for in your divorce documents. A good first step is to seek representation from a skilled attorney to help you with your child custody plan, support agreement, and parenting plan.
How a Lawyer Can Help You with the Process
An experienced lawyer will use their knowledge of the law and their years of experience to guide you throughout the divorce process. They can help you identify important needs that you must make provisions for in custody and support documents. They may also bring up issues that you haven’t yet thought about and help give you a practical and realistic view of the process.
Some things to discuss with your lawyer while determining your children’s needs include:
- The age of your children
- Their educational needs now
- College plans, including how you and your ex will pay for college
- Health needs, including health insurance provisions
- Any special needs of the children
- Custody and visitation plans
- How you plan to co-parent with your ex
It’s also important to consider how your children’s needs will change over time and how you can make provisions for anticipated changes. While you don’t know what the future holds, you can prepare for it with the help of an attorney. The more you know, the better able you will be to prepare your children.
DeTommaso Law Group, LLC is a client-focused law firm, and our practice emphasizes a collaborative approach to problem-solving. We are prepared to use our experience to help you and your family. Contact us to discuss your case.
3 Tips for Helping Children Through the Divorce Process
It can be hard to predict how children will react to the news that their parents are divorcing. Each child will have their own response, and it is not uncommon for siblings to take the news very differently from each other. Age, maturity, and temperament often affect how a child will take the news. Children often pick up queues on how to respond from their surroundings and will likely look to you for guidance. Keep reading for more tips on helping children deal with the divorce process.
Plan how you will break the news to your children. If possible, have both parents present for the discussion, and make sure you have adequate time to answer all of the questions your children may ask. Before having the discussion, you might want to write a script or some notes about what you will say. Practicing beforehand will help you feel more comfortable and help you and your ex remain calm and steady during the conversation.
Tip #1: Maintain Consistency Whenever Possible
When parents divorce, it can throw a child’s life into disarray. Even before changes in the household have occurred, the child may start feeling uncertain and nervous. You can help them feel more secure by maintaining consistency as much as possible. Even something as simple as keeping the same bedtime routine can help children feel more stable.
Ways to encourage stability during the divorce process include:
- Keep house rules the same
- Keep the same schedule
- Keep daily routines the same
- Keep both parents involved in the child’s life
- Avoid disrupting extracurricular activities
- Don’t make changes to household chores and responsibilities
- Avoid making dramatic changes in the child’s day-to-day life
Often, children become worried about what else will change as a result of the divorce. While you cannot prevent some changes from happening, such as moving to a new home or having shared custody, you can work to create consistency in other areas of your child’s life. Reassuring them of the things that will stay the same (such as the school they go to, the friends they will keep seeing, etc.) can help them feel more grounded.
Tip #2: Avoid Conflict in Front of Children
Divorce is never a pleasant experience. Even when both people agree that divorce is necessary, the potential for conflict is high. This can be upsetting for children and can exacerbate feelings of disease. As much as possible, avoid arguing or fighting in front of the children. Relatedly, avoid talking about the legal aspects of the divorce and do your best not to complain about your ex in front of the children. Seeing their parents fight can significantly impact children and can affect their physical and emotional well-being.
Tip #3: See to Their Mental Health
No matter how fine your child may seem when you first break the news of the divorce, most children experience some measure of grief. This can be difficult for them to process, and they likely will need your help. When preparing your child for the changes they are about to experience, you may want to seek help from a therapist or family counselor. Many people have said that therapy was beneficial for them and was instrumental in helping their child adjust to the divorce.
Check-in with your children and keep communicating with them throughout the process. Reassure them that the divorce is not their fault and that you are there to help them through it. Often, children are nervous about speaking up, especially when they can tell that their parents have a lot on their plate. Proactively speaking with your children and regularly asking them questions about how they are feeling can help them feel safe and give them the space to speak up.
Keep reading here for more information on how divorce affects children.