Tips For Talking To Your Children About A Custody Dispute

Getting a divorce is not easy on any level, and undoubtedly the most difficult part of it all is trying to find a way to co-parent with someone you may no longer even like. No matter what arrangements you hope to make regarding your children, it's important to speak to child custody lawyer regarding your unique situation and what you should do from here. If a custody dispute occurs, which is often the case, you need to decide from the start exactly how you will discuss it with your children. These tips should help you decide the tone you'll use when speaking to them and how much information you want to share.

Throughout the Dispute: Less Is More

No matter how much your children may want to know about what's going on, give them minimal information. If you are getting a divorce because your husband or wife had an affair, of course, that is off-limits for discussion with your children. Things like your opinion of your ex's weight, parenting failures, and lifestyle choices should never be discussed when the kids are around.

Before the Custody Decision: Addressing What Comes Up

As you sail through the custody dispute process, rough waters will come up, and speaking with your child custody lawyer may be something you do often. That's a good thing. Your lawyer is there to help you. Speaking with your child about the divorce is healthy, but, unless you can see that your child struggles to do so, wait for your child to bring the custody dispute or divorce up. Many children will do so often anyway. When it does come up, be sure to communicate in the following ways:

  • Accentuate the Positive – Although you may not be seeing life on the sunny side of the street yourself, try to accentuate the fun things that will come into your child's life through the divorce. For example, having a bedroom at each parent's home means two chances to decorate. You don't want to focus on the material aspects of it in general, but unexpected perks shouldn't be ignored.
  • Be Overly Fair – Even if the mere mention of your ex makes you want to kick a hole in the wall, never show your resentment or anger about it to your kids. Your children may ask questions from different angles to try to understand the divorce, but it's important to never make the other parent the villain. Even if the truth of the matter is that your spouse is fully responsible for the divorce, it would not be in the best interests of your kids for them to know that fact.
  • Solve Problems – Sometimes a child may worry over things that seem small from the outside, yet those things may feel overwhelming to the child. For example, if a child has a favorite stuffed animal, the child may worry about it getting lost in the shuffle. Reassure your child by making a solid plan so that it doesn't happen, such as starting a "Stuffie Check" every time the child goes to stay with the other parent or come back home to you.

After the Custody Decision: Sit Down and Talk to Your Kids Together

After the custody dispute has been settled, plan to get together as a family unit to have a deep discussion. No matter how you feel about your soon-to-be former spouse, one thing's for sure. Your children are going to keep you two bonded in some ways for life, so trying to make things as amicable as possible is in the best interests of everyone in the family.

If you plan any appeals, you both may need to speak to your lawyers for child custody separately before coming together, but arrange a time to come together and have an open question-and-answer session with your kids. Answer their questions and be sure to discuss the following:

  • How often children will be staying at each parent's house.
  • The repeatable schedule that's decided upon, such as whether kids will spend every other weekend with one parent.
  • Where children will be dropped off and picked up when going from one parent to the other.
  • What time children will be dropped off and picked up when going from one parent to the other.
  • Who will be driving them to and from school and activities each day.
  • What holiday plans are finalized as far as custody arrangements go, if any.
  • Multiple ways that kids can reach both parents for any reason.

Finally, remember that this is likely to be one of the hardest things your kids have encountered. Find patience even when you may get frustrated when the child asks the same question for the tenth time. Your kids need a lot of reassurance throughout the divorce proceedings and beyond. No matter which way you choose to approach the subject of custody with your kids, remind your kids often that both parents love them and will always be there no matter what the outcome of the custody dispute.

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