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4 tips for breaking the news of divorce to children

It is important for parents in Connecticut to understand how to speak to their children about divorce.

On paper, a divorce in Connecticut may seem fairly cut and dry. The law states that a couple may file for divorce once at least one of them has been a resident for at least 12 months. The paperwork is filed, the decisions regarding property division, child custody and child support are made, the marriage is dissolved.

In reality, though, a divorce is much more complicated. The decisions are not black-and-white, and everyone may go through a roller coaster of emotions. Especially when there are children involved, the way people talk about the divorce greatly affect the way it is perceived and the way the family moves into the next phase of life.

In order to smooth the transition, here are some tips for parents on how to speak with their children about the process:

1. Time the conversation correctly

There is a delicate balance parents may have to strike regarding when to tell children about the split. Breaking the news too early means the kids may live in a sort of limbo for a while as decisions about custody are made. Waiting too long to share the news may not give children enough time to process the information before one of the parents moves out of the home.

Generally, experts advise telling children about the divorce once the parents have a plan in place for visitation and custody. This enables them to answer questions and provides reassurance that the children will still have a relationship with both parents.

2. Discuss it as a family

Whenever possible, parents should tell the children about the divorce together. This presents a united front so that children are able to see that the parents can still be amicable with each other.

3. Answer questions honestly and simply

It should come as no surprise that children of all ages may have questions about what is happening. Those questions should be answered as honestly as possible without creating more emotional drama. One of the most common questions children will ask is, “Why?” Instead of going into details about infidelity, financial turmoil or other issues, parents may simply respond that while they still love their children, they simply do not wish to be married to each other anymore.

4. Expect a range of emotions

Lastly, parents should be prepared for just about any type of reaction from children. Some may become angry and aggressive, others may be upset, and still others may remain stoic as they process the news. Parenting children through a divorce is a long journey as everyone adjusts to their new dynamic. When children appear not to be coping well, parents should not hesitate to reach out to professionals, such as a family therapist, for help.

There are plenty of people who are able to guide families through these difficult transitions. Anyone who has questions about this topic should speak with a family law attorney in Connecticut.

At the Law Offices of Robert B. Fried, we represent clients in the cities of Hartford, Middletown, West Hartford, Rocky Hill, Glastonbury, Wethersfield, Simsbury, Vernon, Enfield, South Windsor, New Britain and Farmington, and in the following counties in Connecticut: Hartford, Middlesex and Tolland.
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