Divorce is incontrovertibly a difficult process, both for parents and for children. With over 113,000 divorces happening each year, it is unfortunately not uncommon for children to be exposed to the process.
While much of the divorce process concerns itself with the clean and compromised split of assets and obligations, it is much more important to prioritise the emotional security of your children to help them navigate such a challenging period. How best can parents meet this priority, despite their differences, for the betterment of their family?
Communication and Divorce
If you and your partner decide to divorce, you must tell your children about it as soon as possible. Honesty is important; it is best to be clear and direct about what lies ahead. Your kids need to understand exactly what's happening, and how it might affect them – both logistically and personally.
As vital as it is to talk, it is also vital to listen. Your children may have a lot of questions, and you need to be in a good position to answer them fully. Honesty, transparency and a reaffirmation of your love for them are all key here.
You should also try to establish healthy boundaries between yourself and your ex-partner. This means avoiding any discussion of legal proceedings, finances, and especially custody in front of the children. In doing so, you can help reduce misunderstandings and mitigate stress in the process.
Co-Parenting, and Creating a Stable Environment
Though you and your ex-partner may not see eye-to-eye, co-parenting is still an essential aspect of ensuring emotional security for children as they grow and develop – and especially so during your divorce. This means working together to provide a stable and supportive environment. How might you do so?
Establish a co-parenting plan: A co-parenting plan outlines how parents will share responsibilities and make decisions regarding their children. It's essential to develop a plan that works for both parents and children. A family solicitor can be instrumental in helping you create a co-parenting plan that is legally binding, equitable and that takes into account the needs of your children above all else.
Communicate effectively: Open and honest communication is key to successful co-parenting. Parents need to be willing to listen to each other and work together to resolve any issues that arise. It is also imperative for you to keep each other informed of any changes in your children's life or routine.
Keep children out of the conflict: This level of collaboration can be difficult to manage, and conflict is likely. However, children should never be used as messengers or put in the middle of any conflicts that may arise. It's important to keep children out of any disagreements and to avoid speaking negatively about your ex-partner in front of them.
Maintaining a stable environment for children during a divorce is extremely important. As such, it is key that children's daily routines are maintained as much as possible. Children need stability and predictability during a naturally disruptive process, and parents should try to avoid making significant changes to their children's lives throughout that process.