While a divorce is stressful enough for the adults involved, divorce can be even more difficult for children, who may not always understand why you are separating. Divorce is likely to make children scared, uncertain, confused, sad, and/or angry. Given the extreme emotions that your children may have when they learn about your intended divorce, here are some tips that you can follow to make this experience easier on your children.

If possible, try to work with your spouse to sit down together with your children and tell them about the divorce. This is a good idea if you both can remain calm and not argue in front of your children. Choose a quiet time for your conversation, which ideally should occur two to three weeks prior to your physical separation. The beginning of a weekend is a good time to have this conversation, which leaves the remainder of the weekend for your child to think about the divorce and ask any questions that he or she has. You also should share news of the divorce with your child’s teachers and caregivers, so that they are aware of the situation and can deal with any behavioral or emotional issues that your child may exhibit as a result of learning about the divorce.

Generally, you should repeatedly advise your children that you have tried for a long time to work things out between the two of you, but that it just hasn’t worked out. You also should emphasize that divorce is an adult decision based on adult reasons that have NOTHING to do with them. Tell your children they should not blame either parent or themselves for the divorce, and that they should continue to love both parents. Make sure that they know that you still will be a family, but it will just be a different type of family. Ideally, you should have already made decisions about your living arrangements and be able to let your children know when and where they will be spending time with each parent.

Divorce cases involving children are often complicated, lengthy, emotional, and stressful. No matter the complexity of the issues in your case, we are here to help. The attorneys of Pacific Northwest Family Law have handled all cases involving all aspects of divorce and family law, including visitation, parenting plans, child custody, paternity support, and grandparents’ visitation rights . Please contact an experienced Washington divorce attorney at our office if you have any questions about divorce or family law in the state of Washington.