Often times divorce does not only affect the two spouses involved. Even if you did not intend for it, many times your family will be dragged into the discussions, consequences and decisions. Whether your kids are younger or older, divorce can still be hard on everyone included. Even the pets can be affected by divorce! We’ve put together a few simple tips to help guide you through this complicated time.
- Take Time to Focus on Yourself First
This may sound a little silly because the whole point of this article is about how to help your family, but one of the best things you can do before focusing on your family is to get yourself in check. Taking the time to pull yourself together, clean up and clear your head will only help you talk to your family and try to assess their needs. Also, showing a strong front is important because it can sometimes help the kids to be okay, if they see a parent is okay.
2. Encourage Counseling
Even if the divorce goes smoothly, counseling shouldn’t be taken off the table. It can help kids and even parents to express feelings they might not know they possessed. It also is a forum for your family to discuss what’s going on without feeling pressured.
3. Strive for Peaceful Interactions
Although this is often said- try not to fight around the kids. Even the smallest arguments or misunderstandings can negatively affect the family and their perspective on the divorce.
4. Holidays and Family Gatherings
Try to figure out all plans for the holidays and any important family gatherings during the divorce proceedings. Doing this can prevent conflict further down the line, and even conflict with your spouse’s family and soon to be ex in-laws. Although it did not work out with your partner, does not mean you don’t still have respect or love for their family and vice versa.
5. Make the Move for the Pets Easy
Pets are often one of the last things to be discussed when dividing the assets, but most pets are like children in the family. However, it is not as easy to share custody of pets as it is with children. Pets should be given to one spouse and should stay there. Often times pets will stay in their current house if one of the spouses’ gets it. However, if the house has to be sold, pets should go to the spouse who is able to best support them. Do not use the pets as leverage or bribes when it comes to the kids.
6. Talk Through the Emotions
Encourage your kids to verbally express what they’re feeling. You do not want the children to repress any of their emotions during this time. Some parents even find that their kids are actually happy for the divorce because they do not like the fighting. Although this is usually not the case, it’s best to prepare for anything. The kids are not the only ones affected. Encourage your whole family- parents, brothers, sisters, friends- to talk about what’s going on and how it’s being dealt with.
7. Isolating Your Family’s Situation
One of the most common coping mechanisms is for parents to tell their kids “divorce happens all the time.” They will hear this a lot from friends, counselors and anyone else trying to help. However, this statement, although meant to be encouraging, can often be demeaning. Even though divorce does happen often, every family is different and that does not take away from the impact and brevity of their situation.
If your family is going through a divorce, or you have questions about the process, get in contact with one of our experienced attorneys today!