Looking after your children during divorce

Getting divorced can be one of the most emotional experiences we humans have to go through. Despite some couples knowing that divorce is for the best, the process can still have negative feeling about it in terms of both its procedure and its effect on a couple’s mental state. Some relationships can even be soured further during a divorce, and it can be tempting to start an argument at every opportunity. However, with children and monetary assets in the picture, it is important to keep your relationship with one another friendly, and here is a guide to doing just that:

Dealing with the children

When it comes to divorce, the children are usually the most vulnerable party in the process. Seeing your parents separate is never an easy thing, especially if you’re too young to understand what’s going on. It’s only when you spend one weekend at mummy’s and one weekend at daddy’s that the reality begins to set in.

Helping them to understand

It can be difficult to comprehend a split at the best of times, but for smaller children it is a lot more difficult to understand. First and foremost you should explain to your little ones that despite the split, you still love them as much as you ever did. In amongst this, reassure them that nothing they have done has caused the split, along with discussing the reason for the divorce. Don’t shield them from the truth as they will always find out the real details in their elder years. Secondly, it may also be helpful to read age-appropriate children’s books with your child that has a storyline relating to divorce. The fictional characters in the book can help them to realise the situation and give them a character to relate to in the book. Thirdly, always make sure that you’re available to talk. Regardless of their age, children will always have questions that they want to ask about the situation. By honestly answering their questions, you can start the beginnings of a solid, trustworthy relationship outside of the traditional family unit.

What not to do

In particularly sour divorce settlements, it can difficult to not explode at one another at every opportunity. If you need to vent some anger, do it over the phone with your ex and not in front of your children. You also need to remember that children are easily-influenced human beings, and so criticising your ex in front of them can encourage them to loathe their other parent in the process. In the same vein, refrain from interrogating your children about their visit to their other parent’s house. You need to allow your child to freely enjoy quality time with both you and your ex-spouse, without feeling like they have to recount it at the end of the day.
Finally, don’t push your emotion onto them; they’re too young to understand. Losing a residential parent can be tricky to get used to, and they need the support of both of their parents to do so; that means they need you to be strong. If you need to lose some emotional baggage, talk to a friend or a counsellor instead.

Introduce a routine

It is important that routine regarding who sees the children when is put into place straight away, as this helps children get used to their new way of living. Most couples split the week 50/50, with one parent having the child three nights a week, whilst the other has them for four nights; this then alternates. However, due to work schedules, it may be difficult to do that. You need to establish a schedule with your ex and stick to it. A chop-change schedule can confuse your child, leading to upset and them feeling like you’re not bothered about them anymore. Even a phone call at a set time each day can keep parent-child relationships from turning bitter after the split.

Introducing new partners

Although you have chosen to legally separate from your ex-spouse, you shouldn’t feel like you can’t date other people or find a new long-term partner. Again, this can be a difficult adjustment period for children, as they are welcoming a new adult figure into their lives.

How to integrate a new partner into the family unit

Firstly, take it slow. You’ve just passively put your child through a divorce settlement with their other parent so they don’t need to see you moving on straight away. There’s no rush to find someone new, nor is there any need to introduce every tom, dick and harry that comes along to your child. You should only introduce your children to a partner after a month of being together, or if you feel that your new relationship will be a long-lasting one. Keep the introductory meetings between your partner and your child short to begin with, and gently integrate longer meetings with them into your child’s life. You should also avoid public displays of affection during the first few meetings. By placing a greater focus on your partner, you can make your child feel unappreciated and this can form the beginnings of a tainted parent-child relationship.

You may also find it beneficial to mention your new relationship to your ex-partner in private. By doing this your ex may help your child to recognise what is going on and reassure them that this new person is not someone to be afraid of. Having private chats also means that any issues involving your new partner and your child can be raised in confidence.

Lastly, ensure that you always put your child first. While meeting a new partner is a great experience, your child has been and will continue to be dependent on your throughout their lives. If you seemingly ‘replace’ your child with the new person in your life, they may feel excluded and this can cause a fractured relationship further down the line.

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://missleisure.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/7975881767_5110b0f9b1_m.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Vicky is a friend of Miss Leusire, she works with DWS in Leicester; they have produced a range of articles to help both married and divorced couples with relationship and finance advice including this one on Matrimonial Finance & Inherited Assets.[/author_info] [/author]

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