If you both decide that it’s best to go your separate ways then here are somethings you may want to keep in mind that I hope will show you how to get through a divorce.
Telling the children
No matter how you do it, remember that this will be a watershed moment in your child’s life.
Avoid making it a “special occasion” by taking them to the cinema, on to Pizza Express and finally telling them when it’s bedtime. The best place to tell your children about the impending divorce would be in a familiar environment and the best time is a few hours before bedtime.
Telling the children about divorce is obviously never easy but it has to be done and as soon as possible. Avoid telling them that it’s a trial separation if you know that it’s not. If the marriage has come to an end then tell them exactly that.
Be ready for your teenagers to be angry and embarrassed by you. They are also very likely to take sides. This is what they do, so please don’t take it personally.
Your teenager may begin to withdraw from you and your family life, don’t let them go to far. Keep them as close to you as possible without being overbearing. Observe them and make sure you keep the door open for any conversation regarding the divorce to come in.
Your younger ones will also naturally be upset and will be able to show it overtly. They may have loads of questions and the wish that this was not happening will be strong. Be prepared to answer the same questions over and over again, it is there way of trying to understand what is going on.
Don’t assume that your little ones know why you are getting divorced, this includes homes where physical abuse has been present.
You will need to explain to them without getting into details like, “because mummy slept with Uncle Jo while I was in hospital getting better from the fall I had when I was trying to save her cat.” They don’t need to know this. It helps you, not them.
How to get divorced?
Fortunately, in a weird sort of way, there are so many ways of getting divorced today.
You don’t have to go through the “traditional” route of using divorce lawyers and fighting it out in court. You may want to consider instead:
- Family Mediation
- Collaborative process
- Using a Mckenzie Friend
- Do it yourself – depending on your situation
- Hiring a divorce lawyer who actually does care. They do exist.
Just know what your grounds for divorce are – there are 5 in the UK and I urge you to do your research as in which divorce process would be best for you and the children.
If you decide to go through the divorce process by hiring divorce lawyers, then please do visit at least 3 before settling for one. Prepare your questions well before your meeting and take a friend with you who will help you remember what you were told.
Don’t go through divorce alone. It doesn’t help you in anyway to shut yourself out from the world.
Find a good support system from people around you whom you trust and whom you know will be objective, not just take your side because they are your friend.
What happens next?
Once you have told the children, picked the divorce process of your choice and found yourself a good support team (doesn’t have to be 10 people, 2 or three will do fine), be prepared for the journey.
What may start off as an amicable divorce is likely to turn nasty at some point, maybe temporarily so or as in most cases, during the whole duration of the divorce and beyond.
Divorce is hurtful, painful and can bring out the worst in you but when you know how to get through a divorce then the journey may indeed be less distressing.
One of the best pieces of advice that I was given at the time of my divorce was not to take things personally. This is definitely extremely hard to do but it’s not impossible and once you’re able to do it, you will find no matter what your ex throws at you, you will be able to handle it much better and deal with it much more objectively.
Also, don’t make decisions when angry or upset. Remember, as Benjamin Franklin said, “Whatever is begun in anger, ends in shame.” Just don’t make any moves when anger is the ruling emotion at the time.
Children need both parents, so I beg you, beg you, beg you, unless there are safety concerns, not to interfere with, disrupt nor sever your child’s relationship with the other parent. It’s one of the most unjust, unfair and unreasonable things you will ever do in your life. Do not parent from your own wounds.
As parents we always say that we will do anything for our children, let this be the case. As much as you carry very strong negative feeling towards your ex, bear them well but keep your children out of it.
If you’re struggling or have any concerns about your little ones, call me – 07850 85 60 66 or email me firstname.lastname@example.org
Soila is the founder of The Divorce Magazine and creator of the online course – Helping Children Cope with Divorce
She is known for taking away the pain of trauma and loss in children, adolescents and their families and is the author of “When Love is Broken. A read-together book for children and parents going through divorce and separation.
Soila holds an MSc in Psychoanalytic Developmental Psychology from UCL (University College London), is an accredited Positive Parenting Program (Triple P) practitioner and a trained Family Mediator.
Soila is Graduate Member of the British Psychological Society.
You can contact her on 07850 85 60 66 or via email email@example.com