Virginia Divorce Law: How to Discuss Divorce With Your Children

Divorce is an emotional process for the entire family. If you have children above the age of ten (10), they likely know that the process is starting or have a feeling that something in the marriage has changed. Many parents come to me and ask how to talk to their children about an impending divorce.

Generally, the answer to this question is simple; don’t talk to your children about divorce. This article is going to address why it is a bad idea to talk directly to your children about divorce, and what some alternatives are to make sure they are protected.

Why You Should Not Talk to Your Children About Divorce

There are several reasons why it is a bad decision to talk to your children about divorce. The first reason it is a bad idea is because the Court may view talking with your children as an attempt to alienate them from the other parent. If you are trying to discuss what their choices are in terms of where they can reside, you are likely to get punished by the Court. Courts take custody issues very seriously, and they do not want any appearance that a parent is interfering with the process.

The second reason it is a bad idea to talk to your children about divorce is that inartfully talking to them may lead to some degree of psychological or emotional trauma. Child sometimes feel that a divorce can be their fault, and by talking to them about the divorce ahead of time you may be placing emotional stress on them.

How Should You Help Your Children Cope With Divorce?

Instead of talking to your children about the divorce, you should look into therapeutic services for the children. Therapeutic services have several benefits.

The first is that they can help your children work through any emotional trouble they may have as a result of any family dysfunction. As the children learn about the divorce process through their Guardian ad Litem or the fact that they are going to separate households, the therapist can be there to help them work through any associated anxiety.

The second benefit of a therapist is that they can prove to be invaluable resources in a contested custody matter. Therapists are experts, and their opinions about the impact of their relationships with their parents may be informative as to where the children should reside.

Finally, the most important aspect is that a therapist can help avoid having the children testify directly. Testifying in court can be a traumatic experience for children. A therapist can offer opinions about custody and visitation without forcing the children to choose a side.

Why You Should Hire a Lawyer Before Filing For Divorce

A good lawyer is well connected with the local service providers. Part of a lawyer’s job is connecting children with the resources they need. A lawyer can help you identify which therapeutic services are best for your children, and which ones the judges respect.