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3 Ways to Protect Your Kids During the Divorce Process

Law Office of Tad Davis Dec. 20, 2017

Getting divorced is hard on the divorcing parties, but children often take it harder. If you’re getting divorced, there are effective ways you can shield your children from the various unintended negative unintended consequences divorce can have on them. Read more to learn how you can protect your children’s emotional well being during this difficult time.

Be Open About What’s Going on But Don’t Talk About the Case Itself

One of the first things you will be told by an attorney or the Judge in your case is that you are not allowed to talk about the case with your children. That means that you aren’t allowed to share details about which parent asked for what or even how the case itself is going. Although that can be a hard order to follow you absolutely need to follow the court order.

That being said, there are ways to protect your child by being open about what’s going on without talking about the case itself. First, you don’t need to keep the fact that you are getting divorced a secret. Doing so may only invite shame and distrust into the process. Being honest with your children about the fact you are getting divorced and what that will mean for the family moving forward can help your child prepare for the future. You can let your children know that you won’t be together with their other parent but both parents still love them. The key thing is making this conversation age-appropriate and avoiding specifics about the case.

However, there are things to avoid talking about. Don’t use this as an opportunity to clue your child into all of the bad things about your spouse or your marriage. A simple explanation that things aren’t working out is fine for most instances. If your child presses for details, use your best judgment to determine what and how much you should tell them. If possible, discuss with your spouse what details you will share and which ones you will withhold.

One additional caution is that you shouldn’t be asking the children what they want in the process. If they are old enough, and the Judge deems it helpful to the case, the children will be allowed to voice their opinions in a way that doesn’t involve the courtroom. So asking for details about their wishes isn’t helpful. For instance, it would be totally inappropriate to ask the kids whose house they want to live in, or which parent loves them more, etc.

Don’t Bash the Other Parent

Even if you’ve decided to be appropriately open about the divorce with your children, be careful not to ever bash the other parent in front of or to your children. Attempting to turn a child against the other parent can pressure your children into choosing sides. Some parents might want the possibility of a vindicating feeling of being the more desirable parent, but that is a dangerous trap both for your case and for your child.

It is fundamentally unfair to ask your children to choose between their parents. After all, each child is half of each parent and so an effort to turn the child against the other parent can result in the child beginning to dislike themselves. Instead, try to encourage your children to maintain a close relationship with the other parent through communication (if the other parent wasn’t abusive). Assure them that no matter what has transpired between the two parents, the love for the children is still the same.

Talk to Your Children About Their Feelings

Often times, children may develop confusing feelings about divorce, including feelings of guilt and grief for the loss of their family unit. To counteract these feelings, have an open dialogue with your children and allow them to express themselves when they want. Try to get them to open up by asking questions about how they may be feeling. If you notice your child has become withdrawn, or is acting out in other ways, it may be time to put on a united front as parents and encourage your children to process their feelings in a healthy way.

No matter what communication tactics you attempt, nothing will protect a child from the negative impact of divorce like parents who strive to put their children’s needs above their own. Hopefully that means that the two parents can get along and respect one another, but at a minimum parents should try to respect their children’s desires to feel love from both parents. While divorce is emotional and often painful, putting your children first can help protect them from any negativity that may be going on between the two of you. Therefore, resolving your problems without bitterness, resentment, and hate can change the dynamics of the divorce entirely. Being willing to compromise can help resolve your divorce amicably.

If you’re considering getting a divorce, find an attorney who will protect your interests while taking your children’s best interest into consideration as well. Contact the Law Offices of Tad Davis today for assistance with your Arizona divorce!