A divorce is a tough time for a family, even if you and your spouse are amicable about the end of your romantic relationship. But the process is particularly hard for young children who might not fully understand what divorce means for their lives and future interactions with their parents. Here are three key ways to make divorce easier on children.
Consult a Family Lawyer Early
You don't need a lawyer to complete a divorce in Canada, but consulting with a family lawyer as soon as divorce is mentioned can help ease the transition for your children. A lawyer from a firm like McCullough Blazina Dieno Gustafson & Watt will ensure that the best interests of the children are considered during the divorce, including custody arrangements and financial support. Even if you and your soon-to-be ex are amicable, it's important to have these decisions established in legal documentation. This ensures that every aspect of your child-sharing is planned out to avoid future confusion.
If your divorce isn't as amicable, the family lawyer can help you proceed through the divorce without exposing your children to the nastiness. This is particularly true if you are pursuing a divorce under the grounds of adultery or mental or physical abuse. Your young children don't need to know that level of detail about your relationship.
Establish Regular Family Meetings
If your ex-spouse will remain an active part of your children's lives, establish regular family meetings where both parents can meet with the kids and discuss any concerns they might have. It's important to hold this at a neutral location, such as a pizza restaurant, and to only proceed if the adults in the situation can handle themselves calmly and fairly. This isn't the place for finger-pointing or trying to win favor over the ex.
Allow your children to tell you both about achievements at school and upcoming performances, or to simply ask further questions about why the marriage won't reunite. Explain the latter in age-appropriate language but maintain a firm tone to convey that the marriage is permanently over.
Pack Comfort Bags
It's likely that the children will spend more time with one parent. When the children are ready for a stay at the other parent's house, pack some reminders of home, such as favorite stuffed animals or books. This will help each child feel more comfortable, especially if the other parent is living in a new location. In return, that parent can pack a few items from the new house for the children to take back with them. This establishes the fact that both locations are home to the children and that they can feel equally as comfortable in either place.