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How do I explain our divorce to our child?

If you are a parent who is going through the dissolution of your marriage, you may be feeling overwhelmed for a number of reasons. Of course, there is the emotional toll that comes with the end of any important relationship. But you are also likely concerned about your child's emotional well-being.

Telling your child about your plans to split could be one of the most difficult parts of your divorce. After all, you and your soon-to-be ex are likely the two most important people in your child's life. As such, when you explain the situation to your child, you should table all feelings of guilt, blame or anger. You may even want to rehearse what you are going to say to avoid getting angry or upset during the actual conversation.

Regardless of your child's age or level of maturity, your key message should be that he or she is in no way responsible for your decision to divorce. You need to reinforce this message as much as possible because children often blame themselves regardless of what they are told. Explain to your child that adults sometimes reach a point where they can no longer get along, and it is best for them to live apart.

You also need to tell your child about the changes that will soon occur in his or her life. There will likely be a lot of questions about living arrangements, school, friends and other concerns. It is helpful to be as prepared as possible to provide answers and reassurance.

Some of the answers to your child's important questions will be contained in your parenting plan. An effective parenting plan includes your custody schedule and terms. But sometimes these terms can be a matter of contention. This is why if you're a divorcing parent, you could benefit from having the representation of an experienced family law attorney. The attorney could work on your behalf to help you create an agreement that satisfies both your and your child's needs.

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