This is the first question that you need to address. Is the divorce the right option for you, your partner and your child? As soon as you become a parent, your child’s interests become the priority. So in this situation, like any other, your child’s interests are paramount. Here are some questions you need to address.
Do we have a future together?
There are endless reasons for divorce. Unfaithful acts, abuse (mental or physical), or maybe you’ve just grown apart and fallen out of love. If your relationship involves any form of abuse, it is important that you end it. No matter how in love you are with a person, abuse has no place in the home of any child. You may think that you can hide it from your child, but kids are much more perceptive than you may think. They will pick up on the tiniest of clues and cues. If your marriage is on the rocks due to an unfaithful act, question whether this is something that you and your partner can overcome and whether it is something you want to overcome. Trust is necessary for any healthy relationship. Are you able to forgive your partner or is your partner able to forgive you? Is this a one-off mistake that will never happen again? Guage whether you will really be able to have a relationship in which this is an issue that can be left in the past. If you have simply grown apart, question whether this is a phase. Perhaps you both just need a little breathing space before coming back together. Maybe it is more permanent. If you find that you and your partner are no longer compatible, it may be time to call it a day and leave the relationship on amicable terms before things get nasty or problematic.
Can you reach a compromise?
If there’s a specific problem that you find you and your partner are often debating, you need to work out whether you can compromise. Marriage is all about compromise. It is about keeping you and your partner as happy as can be. Not one spouse or the other. The answer to your problems may just involve you and your partner becoming a little more lenient with one another. If no compromise on the matter can be reached, it may be the time that you go your separate ways.
Make a Plan
If you find that your marriage is irreparable, it is time to start making a plan for your divorce. This is a complete upheaval to the family home, so there are endless arrangements and agreements to be made.
Divorce mediation is a brilliant option that most couples should make in any divorce process. It is extremely unlikely that you and your partner are going to agree outright on every single facet of the divorce process. There are so many things to consider: who keeps the house, child custody issues, child maintenance payments, custody of pets, property division and much more. Mediation is a form of dispute resolution. A qualified professional will assist you and your partner in coming to agreements on important topics. This is beneficial for everyone involved, as the mediator will be a neutral, objective third party who can resolve problems fairly and without any emotional baggage. It is a formal intervention that can help to avoid your divorce going to court and through a trial. Agreement between you and your partner will make the process as fast, simple and calm as possible. This will reduce strain and stress on you, your partner and, most importantly, your children. You will know when mediation is necessary, as it is essential from the moment that you and your partner dispute, argue or come to loggerheads with any aspect of the divorce.
Breaking the News
Once you and your partner have made a final decision, it is time to break the news to your little ones. Never make this announcement unless you are 100% sure that this is the decision you are making. Kids need stability and changing your mind multiple times will just confuse them. Prepare for tears, high emotions and questions. This isn’t going to be an easy conversation. If possible, try to make sure that both parents are present to explain the decision. If your kids can see that you and your partner are still civil with one another, they may deal with the decision more easily. As your plans are all already in place, you will be able to give your children any information that they may need to know about the divorce process.
Be as truthful as possible
Your kids will have plenty of questions. Answer these as truthfully as possible to avoid confusion. Don’t plant false hope in their minds that you may get back together if this isn’t on the cards. It is not essential to tell them every detail to do with the divorce. Firstly, they might not understand. Secondly, you don’t want to tar one parent’s relationship with them. Avoid placing the blame on one parent or the other. Simply let them know that they are loved, that they will still get to see both parents and that their lives will remain as normal as possible.
Prepare for late reactions
Not all kids will react immediately to the news. It may take days, weeks, or even months for the message to become clear to them. Be patient with them. It is a big change that is taking place in their lives and will be a lot for them to take in. Comfort them and try to find ways that will make them feel better and more accepting of the situation. Help them to put their feelings into words. Many children will react physically, by lashing out at friends, at school or even at you. Bad behavior may just be their way of expressing feelings of sadness, anger or fear. Try to get them to talk their feelings out. This will give you ways to combat their negative emotions and truly understand where they are coming from. Let them know that it is okay for them to feel the way that they do. Their emotions are legitimate. Also, make sure that they know that they can talk to you and confide in you. Some kids will pretend that everything is okay for fear of upsetting you or angering you.
If your child still doesn’t settle down comfortably with their new living arrangements, consider external support for them. There are plenty of helplines and support groups that offer someone external from the situation to talk to your child. Sometimes they might want to get emotions off their chest to an outsider: someone who isn’t involved and who can just offer an ear or shoulder for them to lean on. Socializing with other children whose parents have broken up can also be beneficial for them. They will realize that they are not the only people in the world experiencing this situation. They will be able to relate to others and gain advice from kids with similar experiences.