Divorce is an extremely difficult and challenging process, with everybody involved being impacted in some way or another. This is no exception where children are concerned, and they can often feel the effects much worse than anybody else. With this in mind, it’s important that you are aware of the different ways that children may be impacted by divorce, as well as the ways that you can protect them as much as possible.
Typical effects of divorce felt by children
Children that are aware of and exposed to the divorce of their parents can often be left distraught, which can sometimes lead to issues in their life. Below are some of the most common issues that can impact a child both short-term and long-term.
Problems with behaviour and socialising
One of the most common effects of a divorce is children will become unable to socialise properly, as well as developing issues relating to their behaviour. They may have a short temper that often leads to physical or verbal abuse and, if nothing is done about it, this can sometimes lead to a life of crime for them further down the road. The divorce can cause them to be aggressive, and can make them feel like they don’t fit into society.
Sadness leading to depression
Most children are heartbroken by the divorce of their parents, leading to sadness and depression in some cases. Depression can be a very big issue, and if it develops at an early age then it can be a problem throughout the duration of a child’s life.
Another common issue as a result of the divorce is that children can suffer from mood swings, becoming very impulsive and irritable. Children may refuse to speak to familiar people or do familiar activities, opting to spend their time alone in their own quiet space.
Stress is also a very common feature amongst children whose parents are divorcing, with the main reason being that many children consider themselves to be the reason behind their parents’ divorce. For children that think this, they often feel as though they have to be the ones to fix the relationship, which places a large amount of pressure and stress on their shoulders.
Nervousness and anxiety
Finally, a common effect of divorce is the development of nervousness and anxiety in children. The child may be anxious in situations, and may not be able to concentrate or sustain interest in certain things, such as school work.
How to protect children during divorce
As a parent, your biggest responsibility is to protect your children at all times, and this is no different when even you are going through a difficult time. Your divorce can have a big, lasting impact on your children, and so it’s important that you do everything within your power to protect them from the damage that a divorce can cause. Here are some of the ways that parents can help to minimise the damage to their children during a divorce:
Ensure that both parents are involved in the children’s lives
This is arguably the most important thing for you to do, and can be extremely effective in protecting your children. It’s thought that children with divorced parents lead a much happier and complete life when both parents remain an active part of their upbringing. Therefore, if it’s possible for you to do so, you should all celebrate birthdays and other special occasions together, as well as being active in the child’s day-to-day life. You could also look to keep a routine going that allows both parents to play an important role, which also ensures that children get to spend quality time with both parents.
Take a considered approach to informing your children of the divorce
When children first hear of the divorce between their parents, it can be a very difficult and confusing time for them, and that is why you should ensure that you tell them in the correct way. You should tell them in good time, ensuring that they know that the divorce is not their fault, as well as not placing the blame onto your former partner either.
Keep proceedings as short and as pleasant as possible
The longer the divorce proceedings go on, the more difficult life during and after the divorce can become. Not only can the parents find the divorce stressful, but the children can too, and if the proceedings drag on they can feel as though they are in the middle causing all of the upset. Lasting damage can also be caused when the court places the decision within the children’s hands, so you should choose to move forward as parents together, even though you are no longer in a relationship with each other.
If you need help with a divorce, you can use Rocket Lawyer’s Divorce service from £250+VAT or Ask a lawyer. You can also create all the necessary documents to ensure a smooth transition, including a Separation agreement and a Parental responsibility agreement.
K J Smith Solicitors are specialists in family law, experienced in all matters relating to divorce, civil partnerships, cohabitation disputes and collaborative law.