By Robin Roshkind, Esquire – West Palm Beach, Florida
You have met with a divorce lawyer. You have photocopied boxes of documents…everything from tax returns to bank statements to credit card receipts. You discussed divorce with your spouse. Now, what about the kids?
Ideally, if the divorce is going to be a collaborative one – that is, an amicable or uncontested divorce – then spouses should share this responsibility of breaking the news to the family. However, in cases where one spouse has moved out and on, or the divorce is acrimonious, often the task belongs to the custodial parent.
Below is a check list of what to do and what not to do when telling your school age children about the divorce:
1. It is important to sit the children down and make it very clear that they are not the problem. The divorce is not their fault. Children sometimes think they are the cause and feel terribly responsible for the situation. Make sure they know it is not their fault.
2. Tell the children that you are not divorcing them. Children need to feel secure and loved by both parents. Especially at this traumatic time.
3. Don’t disparage the other spouse. Children identify themselves with both parents. If something is wrong with one according to the other, they think something is wrong with them. This causes low self esteem, nightmares and school problems.
4. Explain what divorce is, and if you can, why the divorce is occurring. Be sure to explain it is between mommy and daddy. Also stress that they will always have a mommy and a daddy no matter what.
5. Children need assurance that they will be safe and that everything is going to be ok. Explain to them about having two homes and two places to stay, two sets of friends, two beds, two rooms, two birthday parties, etc. Put the situation in a positive light that youngsters can understand.
What if one spouse has another newer family and has moved on? Get your children to counseling. This may have to be court ordered, but so be it.
There is a web site to read more about this subject at www.howdoitellthekids.com. For more information about the legalities, consult with the attorneys at ROBIN ROSHKIND, PA at 561-835-9091 or visit our web site at www.familylawwpb.com.