When kids are involved in a divorce or separation there’s a lot more to think about than your relationships with your ex. Helping your children to understand and cope with the transition can be tough, and despite the title of this blog post I’m afraid it’s never going to be ‘easy’. However, there certainly are ways to make it less painful on all of you. Here are ten of them:
1) Be honest from the outset: children know when they’re being lied to – even if you think hiding the truth will protect them from being upset – and while they don’t necessarily need to know all the messy details, being as honest as you can will help them to understand the complexity of the situation and the different points of view involved.
2) Don’t badmouth your spouse in front of them: no matter what they’ve done, your ex-partner is still a big part of your child’s life. Let them make their own decisions on how they feel about their other parent.
3) Find an experienced family lawyer: when there are kids involved, divorce becomes more about the family and less about the couple. A family lawyer or solicitor trained in collaborative family law will be able to take into consideration all the aspects of your family life and help you to make a decision that is positive for everyone.
4) Avoid the courts: traditional divorce can be confrontational and protracted when it comes to separating parents – avoid a difficult court divorce by choosing one of the less antagonistic alternatives: mediation or collaborative family law.
5) Create a support network: there will be times when you kids need to have some space from you to talk to someone more objective. Make sure they have the option to turn to friends and family – or even a therapist – to help them work through the separation.
6) Forget failure and blame: when you just can’t make a relationship work it doesn’t mean you’ve failed – it simply means you need to find a different way for your family to co-exist. Separated but happier parents are always preferable to married but miserable ones. Make sure your kids know that no one – least of all them – are to blame for the situation and focus on moving forward.
7) Find a new routine: don’t expect things to carry on as before, or assume that you’ll be able to keep to your normal routine. Allow for change and be flexible, especially while you’re settling into being a single parent. Soon you’ll find a new routine that suits your situation.
8) Prepare for the fallout: kids of all ages will need to process and re-process a huge life change like divorce, and this is likely to mean tantrums, frustration, challenging behaviour and difficulty communicating. Be patient, lean on your support network, and, above all, be there for them when they need to talk it all through (even if sometimes that means having to deal with them shouting at you and slamming doors…)
9) Keep talking to your ex: communication is key to working through a divorce with kids. Use your solicitors as a buffer if you need to, or stick to email if you can’t bear talking face-to-face, but no matter what, make sure you keep talking and find a way to work together for the sake of your children.
10) The little things are sometimes the most important: often when we’re consumed with the big picture, we forget about the little details that it consists of. And when it comes to kids, the little things are big things, so it’s important to listen and respond to what they’re telling you – even if what they need seems irrelevant or frivolous. By fixing all the little things one by one you’ll find that the big picture suddenly seems more manageable.
If you need support or advice on separating when you have children then please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our family lawyers at Frances Lindsay & Co, covering the Thames Valley and beyond with fixed-fee legal services specifically tailored to families. We offer collaborative family law, mediation, arbitration and traditional divorce options for couples with or without children, ensuring that your method of dispute resolution takes into account your unique situation. Call us on 01628 634667 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your needs with a down-to-earth solicitor – let us take the weight off your shoulders.
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