Understanding the Rights of a Child After Divorce

A Relationship with Both Parents

Except in situations with abuse or other hazards, a child should be allowed and encouraged to have a relationship with both parents. Regardless of your feelings about your ex, don’t hinder your child’s ability to spend time with them. 

Guilt-Free Interactions

Not only should you allow your child to have a strong relationship with their other parent, but you should also not make them feel guilty about loving that person or wanting to spend time with them.  Encourage that relationship as well as relationships with your ex’s extended family.

Guilt-Free Interactions (Part 2)

Separate your negative feelings about the ex from your child’s experiences.  For ideas on what this entails, you may refer to the full version of the blog post, as linked below.

Stability and Predictability

Divorce is a massive change in the lives of everyone involved. You can’t prevent that. What you can do is offer as much stability as possible to your child so you aren’t adding additional uncertainty and upheaval to their life. 

Stability and Predictability (Part 2)

When practicable, try to keep them in the same home or school. That allows them to maintain established friendships and learning environments.  If you must move, try to offer continuity by continuing their favorite activities or lessons.

Stability and Predictability (Part 3)

When significant changes are unavoidable, be upfront with your child so they know what’s coming. 

Stability and Predictability (Part 4)

Give them control where you can.  That could be showing them two potential apartments and letting them choose your new home or allowing them to paint their new room in their favorite color. Or it could be allowing them to visit with friends from the old location, even if that means a long drive for you. 

Stability and Predictability (Part 5)

These things provide a familiar foundation and reassure your child that while their life has changed, they won’t have to sacrifice things that are meaningful or important to them.

The Ability to Remain Neutral

Your child deserves to be left out of the drama and tension between you and your ex.  Keep them out of adult matters so they can concentrate on being a kid.

The Ability to Remain Neutral (Part 2)

Never create a situation where your child is torn between supporting one parent they love and defending another parent they also love.

Freedom from Arguments Between Parents

Wait to have potentially difficult conversations until little ears aren’t around to overhear them. 

Freedom from Arguments Between Parents (Part 2)

As we mentioned earlier, divorce can actually be beneficial to children because it removes them from a tense, unhealthy situation. That’s only true if you don’t transfer that tension to the new households. 

A Safe Place to Express Themselves

Your child will likely have some strong feelings about the divorce and topics like you or your ex beginning to date. Be a safe sounding board for them to express those feelings.  Avoid being defensive or critical of the ex. 

A Safe Place to Express Themselves (Part 2)

Alleviate your child's fears when you can, and remind them that they are loved.

A Safe Place to Express Themselves (Part 3)

If you feel your support and encouragement aren’t sufficient or that your child would benefit from an external support system, enlist professional help from a trained counselor or therapist.

Click the link below to read the full article