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Looking After a Child’s Mental Health During Divorce

 Posted on September 28, 2022 in Divorce

wheaton divorce lawyerMuch as divorce can become a source of emotional turmoil for parents, so can it for children of any age. From toddlers to teenagers, divorce can have an enormous impact on children’s mental health, as the split likely represents the most significant life change they have ever experienced. As a parent, taking care of your child’s mental health during your divorce - in addition to looking after your own - is of the highest importance. Children, particularly older children, are likely to hold their own opinion about what parenting time arrangements would be ideal. Some children would wish to live exclusively with one parent, seeing the disfavored parent as responsible for the divorce. Children often feel powerless during divorce, even making futile efforts to keep the marriage going. If you are going through a divorce, prioritizing your child’s emotional needs without putting them in charge can be challenging. 

Tips for Meeting Children’s Emotional Needs During Divorce

If it appears that your children face courtroom involvement during a high-conflict divorce, then preparing them emotionally is important. Even if your child will not have any involvement in courtroom proceedings, other aspects of the divorce may be deeply upsetting to them. Helpful guidance for looking after your child’s mental health in divorce includes: 

  • Hear their input - While children need not be permitted to set their own custody schedule, parents undertaking efforts to settle the divorce out of court may benefit from taking the child’s input into consideration. Consider factors such as whether the child needs to be removed from a group or activity that is important to them, such as a sports team or youth group under a given arrangement. This can mitigate a child’s sense of powerlessness. 

  • Give age-appropriate information - Children will generally want to know why their parents are getting divorced. It may help to jointly provide the child with age-appropriate information, framed in a way that is not blaming or antagonistic toward either spouse. 

  • Warn of changes - Give your child as much notice as possible when a life change will affect them. It is better, for example, to alert your child two weeks in advance when they will begin staying with their mother in her new apartment each weekend. 

  • Mental health care - Your child may or may not be willing to speak with a counselor or therapist. It is wise to make your child aware that counseling is always an option. 

  • Respect their space - Older children in particular may want more personal space or time with friends. It is not unhealthy for children to cope in part by discussing their feelings with peers. However, some children do “act out” during divorce, so it is a good idea to ensure a reasonable level of supervision. 

Caring for a child’s mental health during divorce is a task best conducted by both parents working jointly where possible. 

Contact a DuPage County Divorce Lawyer

Davi Law Group understands how divorce affects the entire family, including children. Our compassionate Wheaton divorce attorneys will strive to reach a final divorce decree that is favorable to the children, and to you. Call 630-657-5052 for a free consultation. 





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