How to Protect Your Kids During a Divorce

UK’s divorce rate stood at 33.3% in 2019 and unfortunately many of these will be families with young children. Even the most civil divorce can be painful for the adults, but children who wont really understand why or what is happening will suffer too. There are ways you can limit the impact of a divorce on children though.  If you are considering a divorce from you spouse read on to find out what you can do to help protect your children during the process.   

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Keep Legal Proceedings Short and As Pleasant As Possible

Lengthy divorce proceedings can be gruelling and emotionally draining on the couple and, most importantly, the children. You can limit the impact by agreeing with your soon-to-be ex-spouse to make the proceedings as clean as possible and if there are disagreements not to voice them in front of your children. It can be particularly hard if children are going to be involved in the conversation about who they will live with as they wont want to hurt either parent. Showing understanding and compassion can help soften the emotional turmoil they already feel. If your child has UK British citizenship you have a legal obligation to make arrangements for them before, during and after the divorce is granted.

Inform Your Children of the Divorce Together

After you decide to get divorced one of the hardest conversations will be telling your children. It's important for them to hear it directly from you, rather than from some one else and ideally both parents should be involved in the conversation. It is an opportunity to show your child that you are in agreement and that it is about a change in relationship with each other, not your relationship with your child. Try to avoid blaming each other or fighting in front of your children.  Research has shown that children tend to blame themselves for their parent's divorce so it's important to make it clear it is nothing they did. They also worry that if their parents can stop loving each other then they could equally stop loving them so reassurance is critical to help them feel as secure as possible. 

Avoid Acting Out of Frustration 

When couples divorce straight after separating the courts requires an admission of fault (although the law is changing and no fault divorces are being introduced). By having to state a reason and blame one party it can easily cause conflict. In a divorce where a couple don't agree on the reasons or the associated financial agreements it can cause even more animosity. While children are unlikely to be witness to the conversations themselves it is easy to behave in a way that shows how you feel and make your child uncomfortable or upset. Try and ensure conversations about how you are feeling happen outside of their hearing and keep everything as neutral as possible around your children.  

Avoid Using Children To Spite Your Ex-spouse

While the temptation to punish your spouse may be high during divorce proceedings, it is not advisable to do because of the long term impact on your children. Causing emotional stress on your spouse at the expense of your kids is cruel. Try and ensure there aren't barriers that prevent  your children seeing your ex. If children feel you are preventing them seeing their other parent it can cause resentment and anger. 

Although most divorce proceedings are hard for everyone involved it is really important to prioritise your children. In the long term having happy parents who live separately will benefit them more than miserable parents living together, but how long it will take children to get over divorce (and how much they struggle in the mean time) will depend on keeping the process as civil as possible

This is a collaborative post by another author.


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