How Can a Divorce Affect My Children?

Two children are running away from camera toward their father in the entryway of their home.

Unfortunately, when a couple is getting a divorce, they are not the only ones who feel the emotions and pain related to such a large event. If you have minor children between you and your spouse, it is not uncommon to ask how your decision to divorce your partner may affect them today, or later on in life. Therefore, your Florida Divorce Attorney can discuss with you some ways to assist the child into this new transition, as well as certain tactics that you and your spouse may discuss to aid the child sort through such difficult and confusing times.

Here are a few tips that will help your child get through a divorce:

Communicate – Parents must communicate with their children before the actual divorce takes place. It is best to explain to your child what will happen, how this will affect their lives, and when the changes will occur. During these talks, you can expect your child to react emotionally. Sadness, anger, and shock, are all common feelings that arise when you explain that separation will occur. Most importantly, make sure to reassure your child that they are not to blame for the divorce.

Leave the children out of the divorce – Parents must make it a point when settling their differences, to never use children as a tool during the separation. When couples undergo strenuous and lengthy custody battles, the temptation can often be to try and pit the children against one parent. Understand that this is never helpful, and can only cause further emotional harm.

Maintain the child’s stability – As much as possible, try not to upset your children’s daily routine. If it can be helped, try not to make drastic changes to the child’s day to day activities. Establish set times for visitations, which will help solidify a feeling of security for the child.

It is important to note that not every child is the same. Therefore, certain tactics may not work for your specific child, and even further one thing that may work for one of your children may not work for the other. It is important to approach each child individually and to understand what their unique feelings may be. It is also important to look at the age range of the child. For instance, younger children may be less understanding of the new dynamic and will ask many questions, while teens may feel angry due to the sudden change of their normal life. Science suggests the first step is to sit and have an open discussion with your children. The most beneficial scenario is to discuss their feelings as a family, with your spouse, however, with some situations this is not ideal. However, having an open dialogue with your child about the new normal, the schedule, and what they may be feeling and expecting out of this new situation is important. It is also crucial to bring to your child’s attention the items in their life that won’t change. Children thrive in consistent environments, a divorce results in an unknown area, however, if you are able to remain consistent in your parenting style, in your geographical location, the school the child attends, as well as the extracurricular activities they are involved in these simple consistencies will aid the child greatly during this transition.

Some science suggests, that children feel less attached or close to a parent after a divorce. Anderson J. The impact of family structure on the health of children: Effects of divorce. Linacre Q. 2014;81(4):378–387. However, in order to combat this tendency, it is important to keep in continuous contact with your child even when you are absent. Ensure they know you are still present in their lives through phone calls, video chats, and showing up to extracurricular activities even when it is not during your designated timesharing. Making constant and continuous contact as well as taking proactive steps, allows the child to see that you are not simply leaving them when divorcing their parent.

Finally, it is important to be on the look out for signs that your child may need more attention during this difficult time. Science suggests, children who are enduring their parent’s divorce may be at an increase risk for mental health difficulties, behavior problems, academic changes, and engaging in risking behaviors. D'Onofrio B, Emery R. Parental divorce or separation and children's mental health. World Psychiatry. 2019;18(1):100–101; Brand JE, Moore R, Song X, Xie Y. Parental divorce is not uniformly disruptive to children's educational attainment. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2019;116(15):7266-7271; Donahue KL, D'Onofrio BM, Bates JE, Lansford JE, Dodge KA, Pettit GS. Early exposure to parents' relationship instability: implications for sexual behavior and depression in adolescence. J Adolesc Health. 2010;47(6):547–554. If you find your child struggling with any of these issues you may want to speak with your partner, and seek out a child counselor or family counselor to aid during this time.

Overall, divorce is difficult, ensure your children know that they are a priority and they are free to come to you with any questions or emotions they may be having. Allowing them to feel safe, and empowered during this time is crucial and will also aid you in your emotional concern during this stressful divorce process. Your Florida Divorce Attorney can assist you, and recommend certain techniques that have aided past clients.

Speaking to an attorney at our Florida office is free of charge, and we accept calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Contact us at 850-307-5211 or complete an online contact form to get in touch with a member of our team today.

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