The Dilemma Of When To Tell Your Kids You’re Divorcing

As we approach the end of July and the middle of the summer, family law attorneys find it is common to see an increase in divorce filings. Much like January, the summer months are seen as a routinely busy time for couples who Divorce Kids Telling Explainingdecide to call it quits. Many experts believe this has to do with a desire among parents to wait until the summer, when kids are out of school, before causing the kind of disruption that can occur during a divorce.

A frequent worry among those parents considering divorce is when to tell the children. Experts say there is no uniform answer and that much depends on the child’s age and emotional maturity. Virtually everyone agrees that giving the kids some type of warning is the best thing in almost all cases. Children, especially teenagers, can feel betrayed if the divorce occurs with no warning. They are able to process news better when given time to adjust.

Two family law experts, Judith Wallerstein and Sandra Blakeslee, in their book “What About The Kids?” explore the issue of breaking the news of a divorce to children. The two concluded that for children five or younger, it is usually best to mention the separation only a day or two before it occurs. These young kids do not need as much time to process as older children, and knowing about it in advance can actually cause them more stress.

For school age children, Wallerstein and Blakeslee suggest breaking the news a few days to a week in advance. And finally, for teens and adolescents, giving these kids at least two weeks is recommended. This time will give the older children a chance to discuss their feelings with friends and come to terms with what this will mean for their lives.

In all cases, Wallerstein and Blakeslee note it’s more than probable your children already know what’s happening before you tell them. Children are amazingly perceptive and likely have noticed the rising tension in the family or maybe even overheard discussions about a divorce. Though it is hard news to share, kids will appreciate the advanced warning in the long run and come to understand the decision as they get older.

Before you’ve broken the news to your children, however, it’s imperative you have a plan and your own experienced family law attorney who can assist you in navigation through divorce.  Contact Donna Wagner to schedule a consultation and begin the process of developing your divorce strategy and plan.


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