How Should My Partner and I Tell Our Children That We Have Decided to Separate?

By Karen Pritchard

Principal Associate

Parents often worry about how children should be told about a separation. It is important for the welfare of the child concerned that this is handled in the right way, and that will help to lay a good foundation for how the child will deal with the separation in future.

All of the family team at Nockolds are members of Resolution, which is a national network of family lawyers which are committed to the contrastive resolution of family disputes, and to put the best interests of children first.

Resolution guidance on how to tell children about a separation is:

  • Parents should be honest with the children and talk appropriately to them, bearing in mind the age of the children.
  • If possible, both parents should be present.
  • Parents should try to agree what will be said to the children, as the children will benefit from hearing the same messages from both parents.
  • Parents should keep explanations simple and avoid blaming the other to avoid the children feeling conflicted.
  • Parents should consider how they will manage their own feelings in front of the children.
  • Parents should discuss with the children, as appropriate, how their life will change, which may include addressing any major concerns that the children may have, such as when they will see each parent, where they will live, and what school they will go to. Parents should provide as much realistic assurance as possible.
  • If children have questions that their parents can’t answer, the children should be told that the parents are working out the details and that the children’s questions will be answered as soon as possible.
  • Parents should make it clear that the separation has nothing to do with the children and that they cannot change things. Children can feel responsible when their parents split up. Parents should encourage children to talk about their feelings.

For more information on divorce and separation, and to find out how we can help you, please contact us on 0345 646 0406 for a free initial telephone consultation, or fill in our online enquiry form and a member of our Team will be in touch.