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What do you tell the kids when you're getting divorced?

You made the decision to divorce. You told your spouse. Now comes the next big hurdle: telling the kids.

Kids naturally have a lot of questions about what's going to happen when their parents are splitting up. They may be scared, angry or confused by turns, and they're going to be looking to you and your spouse for answers. It's smart to sit down with your spouse before you tell the kids and agree on your approach to the situation. Once you have, consider the following suggestions:

1. Tell the kids together

This is not the time for either parent to do the heavy lifting when it comes to delivering the bad news. You need to work together to present a united front. Otherwise, you risk confusing the kids further by giving out conflicting answers to their questions.

2. Anticipate common questions

You and your spouse should be ready with the answers to the most common questions kids have in these situations. They include:

  • Why are you getting divorced? A good answer won't focus on the negatives. A positive response is something like, "Because we need to do this to be happy."
  • What's going to happen? You don't know all the answers yet about the future, so don't try to give them. Instead, reassure your kids that you will both always love them and that everything will be fine.
  • When is this happening? It's smart to have some idea of the timing of events down. For example, you could say, "Daddy is going to move out in two weeks, but you'll get to visit with him a few days later."

3. Reassure your kids that they've done nothing wrong

Children tend to see the world as it relates to them, so they sometimes assume that everything is their fault. Let them know that nothing they did (or didn't do) caused the divorce.

If it's time to get divorced, it's also time to seek experienced legal assistance.

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