How will divorce affect your child? At what age is it best to tell your children you are getting a divorce? These are common questions we are asked at Galbraith Family Law, but here is the truth. There is no telling how your divorce will impact your children. Also, while age is a valid consideration, there is no specific age as to when your children are the most resilient.
When considering a divorce, it is important to think about your children before making any final decisions. These are a few important topics to think about and talk to your spouse about if possible as well.
Your children’s parental attachments: Consider how your children are attached to each parent. It is also important to remember that your children have the right to maintain the same connection to each of their parents no matter how your divorce proceeds. Do not allow your divorce to sway your children into picking sides or changing their relationship with one of their parents.
Recent losses: The loss of a close family member can affect children just as strongly as adults. If your children are currently grieving about the loss of a loved one (including pets), divorcing at this point may affect them more deeply.
Conflict at home: How often do your children hear or witness conflict at home? How intense are these conflicts? These are important things to think about before announcing your divorce. Children suffer when they are exposed to conflict between their parents. Minimize conflict as much as possible.
Economic stability: Think about how a divorce will impact you financially both short-term and long-term. Consider your ability to pay for your children’s necessities such as shelter, food, clothing, and so on.
School Changes/Moving: If you have recently moved somewhere new or your child has changed schools, these changes could set off the same feelings a divorce would. Your children may have strong ties with friends, so consider how moving again would affect those relationships.
Connect with supportive friends: Sometimes it helps to have someone by your side who understands what you are going through because they have been through the same thing. It may help your children to connect with friends who have also gone through a family divorce. Knowing people firsthand who understand those feelings could help your child process the divorce and feel less alone. The same applies to adults. If someone you know has also gone through a divorce with children, they may be able to provide you with helpful advice and comfort.
Ability to co-parent: Co-parenting, in theory, sounds simple, but for many ex’s, working together is an impossible feat. However, demonstrating a willingness to communicate and work together with your ex will be a great example to set for your children. Especially during this very intense change. For co-parenting to go smoothly, it is important to always do what is best for your children. Even if that means setting aside your pride and ego. Do not let your emotions or frustration drive you to make decisions.
Your coping skills: Each parent’s ability to cope with the changes and stress associated with divorce is important to think about. You and your partner will need to consider how you’ll each tend to your self-care so you will be able to set the best example for your children.
Your children’s age: While there is no magic number as to when children are the most resilient, your child’s age may give you some indication of how they may be impacted by your divorce. Very young children will have fewer, if not very limited memories of your divorce or living together as a family. However, they are dependent on routines and sensitive to change.
While your children are important, none of the above considerations should be deciding factors for or against divorce. You and your spouse are the only ones who can decide what is best for you and your family. Staying in an unhealthy or toxic marriage because you are worried about how it will impact your children is not a good enough reason to stay married. In fact, staying in an unhappy marriage could have worse long-term impacts on your children compared to divorce.
If you would like to explore your options or learn how the divorce process would unfold give our experienced family law team at Galbraith Family Law a call. We can help you navigate the divorce process, plan your next steps, and help you understand your rights and obligations as a parent. To get started, schedule your consultation with us at one of our five locations across Ontario. For our Toronto offices call 647-370-8965, for our Newmarket office call 289-210-4692 or you can reach us at our Barrie office at 705-230-2734. Let us help you navigate your divorce while working to eliminate conflict and stress.