Children are vulnerable to relationship breakdown. They often try to protect parents by not expressing what they are feeling and often because of this parents underestimate what their children are experiencing. Your child is likely to experience feelings of loss, hurt sadness and anger.
Research shows that most children fear that they have done something to cause their parents to separate – they think that it is in some way their fault.
The well being of your child depends on you, as the parent, being able to set aside your differences and learn to work together to co-parent your child into the future.
You should aim to limit the damage of the divorce and it is your responsibility to support your child by:
Research shows that a child’s initial response to relationship breakdown is likely to be:
Approximately 2 months post-separation; children can become frightened and confused. They may become clingy and act immaturely. Young children of this age are not old enough to know how to understand voice or control their feelings.
Boys are prone to becoming aggressive and actively seek out male affection and attention. Because they become aggressive and confrontational they risk becoming isolated and shunned by their parents and other children.
Talk to your child simply and repeatedly about the separation. Try to maintain their routine and family rules.
Children of this age group often cry and display sadness. Missing the departed parent is the most common concern. Boys often “act out” and show signs of aggression.
Children may also express guilt as though it is their fault that the marriage has broken down. This age group may also openly urge their parents to get back together.
It is healthy to allow children to cry and mourn the loss of the family as they knew it. Tell your child that it is not their fault and acknowledge and tell them that you understand their sadness.
This age group tend to become very angry about their parents’ divorce. They may blame their parents or even reject them. Boys are likely to become aggressive whereas girls are likely to become withdrawn. Performance at school is likely to be affected as well.
It is important for you to accept that your child will be angry. This acceptance will help to disperse the child’s feeling of impotence over an event that they do not wish to happen. Tolerating anger is the most helpful way of managing these feelings.
Adolescents get angry and feel pain at the loss of the family they have known. They may express worries about the future of the family and the well being of younger siblings.
The danger of a child assuming adult-like burdens is that his or her own feelings of sadness and concerns are glossed over which could lead to them feeling unsupported and even emotionally abandoned.
Adolescents still need parents to parent them. You need to try hard to maintain family rules and routine.
All too often, wider members of the family are affected by divorce. Their feelings of loss and sadness are often overlooked. So far as grandchildren are concerned here are some useful tips
The welfare principle.
When a court decides an issue about the upbringing of a child, the child’s welfare shall be the court’s paramount consideration. The most important factor is what is best for the child.
The law sets out a number of things the court should bear in mind known as the welfare checklist:
When it comes to your children, you need a specialist divorce lawyer with years of experience in helping settle family matters. Every family is different, and that is why I ensure I get to know your circumstances to build a bespoke legal strategy. For bespoke advice, please get in touch by calling 0161 509 6241 or by completing the online contact form.