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How to tell your children about divorce

Telling your children (whatever their age) that you and your spouse or partner are planning to separate may be a dreaded and fearful prospect for you both. Whether it was your decision to separate or you would like to remain together as a couple, telling your children is bound to stir up uncomfortable feelings for you both.

Consensus Collaboration Scotland’s Interdisciplinary teams of Family Consultants, Financial Advisers and Family Lawyers have many years of training, experience and understanding of what this most complex and important conversation entails. As an organisation we place empathy for you and your children at the heart of our practice.

We believe that as parents you are the experts in understanding your children’s unique emotional needs, concerns and wishes. It is our aim, as a team, to support you through a collaborative separation and divorce process which forefronts your family’s communication both in the present and in the future. With this in mind we would like to offer the following suggestions, informed by our Family Consultants’ extensive training in developmental psychology and relationship dynamics and based on our many years of reflective practice:

1. Take time

You may not be sure how you feel about this complex and life-changing experience. Before planning how and when to tell your children of your separation it is important to take the time to reflect firstly on how you feel about your separation.

What are your concerns? Your fears? Your hopes? This is an ending of one family arrangement and will bring changes. Your separation may be your decision or it may be your partner’s decision. You may be in shock or be feeling a sense of relief. Our Family Consultants can offer you the space and time to reflect on your thoughts and feelings about your separation and further time to plan how and when you feel its best to tell your children.

There will be legal and financial implications arising from your separation. Consensus Collaboration Scotland’s specially trained Family Lawyers
and Financial Advisors can help you to explore options collaboratively and reach clarity on the forthcoming changes in a sensitive and timely fashion.

2. Understand the importance of communicating thoughtfully and sensitively

One of the unique advantages of the Collaborative approach to divorce is that as an organisation we understand the complex impact of written
and verbal communication between yourself and your former partner, your family, your legal team and financial advisors. We take a holistic full-team approach to supporting you and your family through the process of separation and divorce considering throughout the importance of communicating empathically. Consensus Collaboration Scotland Family Consultants work collaboratively within the team to support you and your partner in taking the time to reflect on communication between yourself and your former partner and guiding you both in communicating sensitively and confidently with your children throughout the changes that are occurring. The Collaborative approach to separation and divorce uniquely offers couples an opportunity to reflect on their communication style as co-parents and supports learning towards more effective communication where needed.

3. Co-parenting Communication

The transition from being a couple to co-parenting your children together as a separated couple is a complex one. At Consensus we recognize this
complexity and work as a team of professionals to support you emotionally, financially and legally to make this transition.

Our Family Consultants can support you in communicating with your children about the changes in your family situation and offer empathic guidance when difficulties in communication occur.

Many parents wish to tell their children together that they are separating. This can be helpful in avoiding mixed messages and can also cause
tension between the separating couple particularly if there are differing perspectives on the reasons for the separation. Consensus Family Consultants can support you and your partner to talk through your feelings around your separation thereby making telling the children easier.

4. A collaborative approach

Consensus Collaboration Scotland values you and your children and fully understands the complexities of the emotional processes of separation and divorce. As teams of professionals we work collaboratively with you and your spouse to guide you and your family through the process mindful throughout of the value of taking time to communicate thoughtfully and empathically.

If you have chosen a collaborative divorce, your Family Consultant can offer you and your spouse time and space to explore how you would like to talk about divorce with your children. Where appropriate Consensus Family Consultants can advise on therapeutic support for your children should you feel this is needed.

If you’re considering an alternative to a court based divorce, contact a local collaborative professional for advice and information.