3 steps to take when talking to children about divorce

Photo of attorney Melinda L. Singer

Divorce can be an emotional time for children. It’s often unexpected and many children don’t know how to take the news.

As a parent, you may wish to prepare your children during this difficult time, but you need to navigate the situation very carefully. Here are a few steps you can take when talking with your children about divorce to ease them through this event:

Step 1: Plan out your talk ahead of time

It may help to prepare for the talk with your children. Going into the talk without a plan may cause you to say something that upsets your children. Instead, talk with your future ex-spouse about what is and isn’t appropriate to discuss. For example, you may decide that talking about the cause of the divorce may be too much for your children, but telling your children that their parents still support them even after the divorce could benefit everyone.

Step 2: Think about your children’s ages

One thing parents often don’t consider when talking about divorce is their children’s ages. A child in preschool may not understand what divorce means, but a teen would be able to grasp far more nuances about the situation very quickly. Your children’s ages may determine what you do and don’t say about your divorce. 

Step 3: Be open about the changes that are coming

One way you can prepare your children for your divorce is by talking about what will change once the process is over. You may want to talk about where your children will live most of the time or how often they will see each parent. You may also want to focus on what’s important to your children, such as if they will still see their friends or if they will be leaving the house they grew up in. 

It may help to understand your legal rights as a parent before talking to your children about divorce. By working alongside someone who understands the law, you may be equipped to handle child custody matters.

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