While there is no perfect time to tell your children of your plans to divorce, it’s generally a good idea to tell them sooner rather than later. The timing will vary from one divorcing couple to the next, but it’s best to wait until after birthdays or holidays to make the announcement, it’s better to do so in a private location rather than in public, and avoid telling your children right before bedtime.
While you may want to hold off until it’s necessary to tell your children the situation between mom and dad, this may be a slippery slope. It would be much more traumatic for the children if one parent left in the middle of the night and you had to explain to them what happened the next morning, versus a scenario in which the children are kept informed of what they can expect in the impending separation. Remember, too, that children are very intuitive and so even if you can’t tell, it’s likely your children already have an idea that your once-loving marriage is on the fritz.
What You Should & Shouldn’t Say to Your Children
Make sure you are as straightforward yet as sensitive as you can be when discussing your divorce plans with your children. Have an idea in advance about what your post-divorce parenting plan will be so your children have an idea of what to expect. Be careful not to assign any blame to your ex, and to present the decision to divorce as a joint one. Above all, make sure your children know you love them and that you are united in keeping them happy and healthy as their co-parents.
Rehearsing the Divorce Announcement in Advance May Help
Divorce is an emotional time for the entire family, not just the separating spouses. If you are planning a divorce and you have children, you should tell them of your plans before you involve others, even your lawyer, in many cases.
Before you sit down to have the talk with your children, it can help if you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse rehearse what you plan to say to the children and so you can have a consistent message from both mom and dad. You should be prepared for high emotions from the children, such as depression or even anger at the potential shock of the news. Every child hears the news in their own unique way. For that reason, it helps to anticipate how each of your children will react to the news, and come up with a joint strategy on how to address any potentially thorny issues that will arise.
For more information about how we can help, please contact Letterio & Haug, LLP today at (845) 203-0997 or contact us online to book your consultation.