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Divorce tips: Help kids cope and resolve legal problems

When you decided to divorce, you were quite concerned with the impact it might have on your children. After speaking with other California parents who have gone through similar situations, you were hopeful that you could navigate the divorce process while making sure your children's best interests remain a central focus. Thankfully, your spouse agreed to cooperate and compromise as necessary to keep your kids' stress levels as low as possible.  

Divorce is an adult issue that affects kids. You can shield your children's emotions as they adapt to a new lifestyle by keeping adult matters between adults. The less you expose your children to the intimate details of the events leading to your break-up, the better. While you may be hopeful that you and your spouse can negotiate a fair and agreeable settlement, it's also good to know how to access support if a legal problem arises because swift resolution can also make things less stressful for your kids. 

Tell them what they need to know 

You may have children of different ages. To avoid overwhelming them with information they are not mature enough to handle, it's best to provide basic facts about your situation, giving each child information according to his or her stage in life. A main goal is to let them know there will be changes but that you love them and will be there to support them along the way.  

Do not use your children as go-betweens 

While it may be tempting to have your kids deliver messages to your former spouse so that you don't have to talk to him or her more than is absolutely necessary, this is usually a bad idea. Not only can it cause your children stress and confusion as to where their loyalties lie, but it can also lead to legal complications if a message is misinterpreted or not accurately conveyed.  

Acknowledge your children's feelings 

It's natural that your children may feel sad when their parents no longer live under the same roof. A key factor toward their ability to rebound and move on in life is knowing that they can share their feelings with you and not worry that their sadness or anger might upset you. There are also outside support resources, such as counseling or community groups, to help families in your situation.  

Keep negative opinions about the other parent to yourself 

You might have legitimate reasons for being angry with your ex. Although your personal relationship has ended, your children will always love their other parent and should be encouraged to maintain an active, healthy relationship with him or her. The less you badmouth your former spouse to your kids, the easier it will be for them to cope with your divorce.  

When you need extra support 

It's important to acknowledge your own need for support as well as helping your kids adjust to new ways of doing things. Perhaps you have a close friend to whom you can turn for guidance or a licensed counseling program in your area that might be beneficial. If you run into legal complications, there are also support networks in place to help you find swift and fair solutions to such problems as well.  

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