Divorce - Telling the kids

When a couple decides to split, there is never an easy way or time to tell the children. It can sometimes be just as much of a blow when the children are grown up themselves.

But are there any tactics that would make breaking the news to them less painful, and the consequences less severe?

Andrew Stynes has more than 25 years’ experience as a Family Solicitor, advising clients on divorce, separation and the associated financial and family issues. On the question of telling the children, he says “The general advice is to tell the children with both parents there. Even when your children are grown up, this is preferable, even if it’s difficult to organise.”

Tell the children together

Meet them together, be clear about what you and your partner want to say and be honest about what has happened, particularly if the children are adults. Your children’s relationships with others as an adult are significantly influenced by the way they see their parents behave.

Agree the basics before you tell them

Try to have reached agreement on basic arrangements if you can, before having the conversation with your children, so that you can explain how things will work and who will live where. It is helpful for the children to see that you are splitting in a fair, amicable way.

However, fairly often we see that, even when the decision to separate is reasonably amicable and the couple remain on good terms, there can often be a sense of bubbling resentment. Perhaps one person has agreed on things in order to keep matters amicable, but might later regret as things move forward. You and your partner have to be really clear about what you are and aren’t going to share with your children and ensure that you are ‘singing from the same hymn sheet’.

The blame game

Try not to criticise your partner, however tempted you may be. Remember that your children are 50% your partner and the aim is not to get them to take sides.

Associated guilt

If you have avoided splitting up until the children have grown up, avoid saying that you have hung on until they left home. They may see this as though you have accepted second best for them and it might make them feel guilty. They didn’t ask you to wait and in saying so, you’ll make this divorce about them. It isn’t. It’s about you and your partner.

Our Family Team are happy to discuss any issues that this raises for you. If you have any questions, you only have to ask us at Frettens. Please call 01202 499255 and Andrew or a member of his team will be happy to chat about your situation and your particular requirements.