How Do I Discuss My Divorce With My Child?

Once a couple makes the decision to separate or divorce, one of the most difficult steps will be to discuss this decision with a child.  Risa Garon, a licensed clinical social worker, certified mediator, and Executive Director of the National Family Resiliency Center, Inc., provides the following advice regarding how to discuss an impending separation or divorce with a child:

1. Before you tell the children, speak to your spouse and decide what you will tell the children. Both parents should have the opportunity to speak.

2. Say what you think will be most helpful to them. Many parents want to tell exactly what happened in their adult relationship to their children. Parents can explain to their children how what they want to tell them will help them in understanding the separation.

3. Do not disclose adult information to your children. It is fine to say that you and the other parent had difficulties and that you were going to counseling, but could not resolve the problems. At the same time there are certain realities. If a child witnessed abuse, you need to label it as such and explain that this was not a healthy way to live.

4. Try to avoid the statement that you and your spouse or partner do not love each other any more. Children extend the loss of love to themselves.

5. Tell children about the separation when both parents are still living in the home and give them time to ask each parent questions or spend time with each child.

6. Wait to tell children until you have some idea about what will transpire once there is a physical separation. Give the children a picture of where each parent will live, when they will spend time with each parent, how their lives will change and most importantly, what will remain the same. Many children fear moving from their home, leaving friends, pets and schools.

7. Some children may react immediately by crying, running to their rooms, or denying that the pending change is any big deal. Accept each child’s reaction and reassure them that they can ask you questions or express their feelings at any time. Be open to answering their questions for as long as they need to ask you questions.

8. What you say needs to be based on the age of your children.

Always keep in mind that, although this may be one of the most stressful and heart-wrenching times in your life, your child is relying on you to act as a rock of stability and emotional support.  You may act as a sounding board for your child, but never put the burden on your child of confusing him or her with your therapist.

If you wish to schedule a consultation with a divorce lawyer in Tampa Bay, call The Law Firm of Adam B. Cordover, P.A., at (813) 443-0615 or complete our contact form.

About Adam B. Cordover, Attorney-at-Law

Family Diplomacy is dedicated to helping clients restructure their families privately and respectfully. We practice exclusively in out-of-court dispute resolution, with a focus on collaborative divorce and family law, mediation, direct negotiations, and unbundled legal services. We maintain this out-of-court practice because we strongly believe that family disputes should be resolved in a private conference room, not in a hostile and public courtroom environment. This unique perspective on family law stems back to Adam B. Cordover’s experience studying International Affairs in Washington, D.C., and abroad. Adam had the rare opportunity to work closely with ambassadors and diplomats from war-torn regions around the world. He traveled around the globe, learning from diplomatic leaders as they applied dispute resolution techniques to tackle seemingly impossible conflicts. It dawned on him: If these techniques can work in the complex world of International Relations, why not Domestic Relations and Family Law? This realization lead Adam to create an exclusively out-of-court practice and to bring a more peacemaking approach to family law. In his previous role as a litigation attorney, Adam witnessed parties experience the negative emotional and financial effects that long, drawn out divorce battles can have on families. As a result, Adam has become a strong proponent of the Collaborative Process, where a structure is put in place so that life’s hardest moments do not have to be any more difficult than necessary. A thought leader in the international collaborative law community, Adam successfully spearheaded an effort of the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit to draft an administrative order safeguarding the principles of collaborative family law (just the fourth such administrative order in Florida). Adam has been featured in or interviewed about collaborative practice by the Tampa Bay Times, Tampa Tribune, Orlando Sentinel, Miami Herald, Tampa Bay Business Journal, Florida Bar News, NBC, Fox 13, Bay News 9, ABC Action News, The World of Collaborative Practice Magazine, and Spirit FM 90.5. Adam regularly speaks at professional and civic organizations locally and internationally regarding the collaborative process. Adam B. Cordover is president of Next Generation Divorce, a 501(c)(3) and Florida’s largest interdisciplinary collaborative practice group with member attorneys, mental health professionals, and financial professionals throughout Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Sarasota, and Manatee Counties. Adam is also on the Executive Board and co-chair of the Research Committee of the Collaborative Family Law Council of Florida. Further, Adam is a graduate of the inaugural class of the Leadership Academy of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals. You can learn more about us and our services at Attorney Adam B. Cordover is admitted to the Florida Bar and the United States District Court, Middle District of Florida. His office is located at 412 East Madison Street, Suite 824, Tampa, Florida 33602.
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2 Responses to How Do I Discuss My Divorce With My Child?

  1. Pingback: How Do I Discuss My Divorce With My Child? | ABC Family Law Blog | Child Custody Attorneys

  2. Jackie Paulson Author says:

    I have an IL Divorce blog at I want to help others in IL – so many come up to me and ask me how I managed my divorce and was a single mom for 11 years. I currently struggle for child support and my ex owes me 95 grand in back support. Ugh.

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