A Guide to Parenting Through Divorce or Separation
9th November, 2022
Deciding to separate or divorce your partner is understandably one of the most difficult and emotional decisions to make, especially when there are children involved.
Parents divorcing or separating is a monumental event for children, which can cause physical, psychological, and emotional issues in the long run if it is not managed well. Children often feel responsible, powerless, guilty, rejected, and isolated in the event of a divorce. As a result, it is important for parents to manage these reactions and reduce as much of the stress as possible during a divorce or separation and put their children first.
If parents manage the process well, finding effective ways to reduce conflict and maintain stability in terms of schooling, seeing wider family and continuing with extra-curricular hobbies, then children will cope significantly better during the divorce or separation. However, knowing how to best support your children during this time can be difficult and seem daunting. In this guide we provide top tips for parenting through a divorce or separation that you can easily adopt and implement.
Top Tips for Supporting Children During a Separation or Divorce
The most important way you can support your children during this difficult time is through effective communication. Listen to them, find out how they are feeling and make them aware that they can talk to you at any point. Having open communication will help your children feel heard and involved.
Depending on ages, you should keep your children updated on the progress of the divorce or separation, letting them know which stage you and your ex-partner are currently at. This allows children to understand the process and helps them to prepare for changes.
In addition, it is important to consider the language you are using when communicating with your children. Regardless of your personal feelings towards your ex-partner, you should always use respectful and positive language when talking to them or about them in front of your children.
Communication is also crucial between parents; parenting should be approached as a team effort, and you should both be making decisions together that are best for your children. You should not be communicating through your children, instead, you should be keeping each other informed about important things concerning your children via direct communication (i.e., via texts, phone calls, emails or in person).
With a lot of changes occurring as a result of parents divorcing or separating, it is important that you maintain stability for your children in the areas that you have control over. This includes keeping up regular routines, such as going to school, having specific meal times, attending extracurricular activities, and spending time with friends. If your child regularly spends time with their extended family (i.e., grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins), this should continue throughout the divorce or separation proceedings, as these family members will help your children feel secure, wanted, and supported.
Take Care of Yourself
As well as taking care of your children during a divorce, you need to take care of yourself. If you are struggling to cope, then seeking support is crucial. Seeing you upset or angry as a result of your ex-partner can cause distress for your children. You have to support yourself before you can support your children.
Whilst being open and honest with your children is important, it is not always the best approach. Respect your ex-partners space and do not share personal information about them to your children. You should also agree to not raise difficult issues during handovers. Instead, these issues should be discussed when your children are not present.
Your children should be protected from conflict between both parties, as this can be harmful. Avoiding shouting and arguments, as well as a lack of eye contact and silence is crucial.
The majority of families will experience changes and events during a divorce or separation that may pose challenges. Whilst some of these challenges will happen during and soon after the event, some will happen further down the line, such as the introduction of new partners, step parents, blended families and moving house. It is important to check on your children as these big changes occur and make sure you are always doing what is best for them.
At Ward Hadaway, we know that parenting through a divorce is difficult, especially if it is high conflict. But our specialist divorce team are here to support you throughout the entire process, helping you and your ex-partner come to agreements that are the best for your children. Contact our Divorce solicitors today to find out how we can help you.
Please note that this briefing is designed to be informative, not advisory and represents our understanding of English law and practice as at the date indicated. We would always recommend that you should seek specific guidance on any particular legal issue.
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