Helping Your Children Through the Divorce

Helping Your Children Through Divorce

The decision to separate or divorce is rarely taken lightly, especially when a couple have children and breaking the news to them can be a particularly daunting part of the process. The revelation may come as a shock and, depending on their age, can be met with fear, anxiety and sadness. There’s no question that separation is tough on kids, but there are steps you can take to ensure the best outcomes for your children. This includes healthy relationships with both parents and confident children who feel loved, secure and supported by both parents.

During our many years specialising in family law, we’ve helped hundreds of families through difficult separations and divorce. Over that time, we’ve gleaned wisdom from our clients and first-hand experience and in this blog, we share that knowledge in some key points. We hope these will assist you in helping your children through the separation and making the best arrangements thereafter.

Breaking the News

When breaking the news, try and do it together as parents. The age, maturity and personality of your children should inform how you share the news; explaining such a decision to small children will be very different to the explanation given to teenage children. There are lots of resources available online, including suggested dialogue, that can assist you with breaking the news in an age appropriate manner.

You should be open and honest with your children, particularly if they have questions. It may not be necessary or appropriate to share all the details of your decision with your children, but you should be clear on information so they are prepared for the changes ahead. For example, you should inform children if one parent is moving out of the family home or where the children will be living.

Perhaps most importantly, you need to ensure your children don’t blame themselves. When you inform them of your decision, you should affirm that it is strictly between ‘Mum and Dad’. Reassure them that both parents still love them and separation does not change this.

Avoid Conflict

It may not be possible to completely avoid conflict when a relationship breaks down, but at the very best you should avoid exposing your kids to any conflict that may arise. Research overwhelmingly finds that high conflict environments increase emotional distress in children and affects their psychological wellbeing, even into adulthood.

Experts always recommend treating your former spouse with respect (even if it is feigned) for your children’s sake. This prevents children from feeling like they have to ‘choose a side’ and fosters a healthy relationship with both parents. If there is mutual respect on both sides, making arrangements after separation also becomes a much easier task.

Parental Involvement

When it comes to post separation arrangements, we see the best outcomes for those children whose parents are respectful, consistent and consider the needs of their children. What is appropriate for your children will depend on not only the individual child, their age and maturity level, but also the commitments of each of the parents. It is always helpful for parents to live in close proximity to each other so they can easily be involved in their children’s lives.


As much as possible, ensure that the children spend quality time with both parents. Time spent with children should be a mix of leisure and everyday tasks, rather than leaving the fun excursions to one parent and the everyday child rearing to another.

As well as consistent quality time, parents should try and be consistent in their house rules and living circumstances. Consistency should also mean that the children know when they will be next spending time with each parent, rather than ad hoc arrangements which may be confusing and destabilising to their day-to-day routines.


A family breakdown brings about a lot of change for children. Providing a stable environment and sticking to a routine can help your children deal with these changes and feel more secure. If changes are ahead, try to give your children advance warning so they have time to adjust.

To achieve stability it will be helpful for parents to live in close proximity. This means children can still attend school, meet with friends and partake in activities while they are at either parent’s house.

At Taylor & Scott, we know that navigating through your own emotions and ensuring the best outcomes for your children isn’t always easy. We’ve helped hundreds of couples make parenting agreements and arrangements that work for both parents and ensure the well-being of their children. Our family law experts are equipped with understanding, resources and practical solutions. To meet with a Taylor & Scott family law expert simply fill out a contact form and we’ll be in touch or call 1800 600 664.

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