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Telling children about divorce: What to do before, during and after

Parents should prepare themselves for what will happen during and after the conversation when they tell their children about their plans for divorce.

After deciding to end their marriage, many couples in Colorado worry about the welfare of their children during the impending divorce process. Although divorce does affect most children in the short-term, a study conducted in 2002 at the University of Virginia found that while many children experience emotions like anxiety, disbelief and anger after finding out about their parent’s divorce, these emotions typically diminish or disappear altogether within two years. To ensure receiving this news is as easy as possible for children to process, there are several things parents should do before, during and after this difficult conversation.


Before telling their children about their plans to divorce, experts suggest that parents should complete the following tasks:

  • Come up with what to say during the conversation and agree not to put blame on their spouse.
  • Schedule a time to tell their children when friends, other family members and distractions are not present.
  • Carefully examine their decision to divorce and make sure that they are not still trying to make their marriage work.

Once these steps have been taken, parents will be better prepared to handle the upcoming conversation with their children effectively.


During the discussion, experts say that parents should try and focus on the positive as much as possible. For example, if a child expresses worry about losing their time with their mother or their father, parents should reassure them that they still have two people that love them and are always there for them.

Even though a child custody agreement has not been arranged, parents should also reaffirm to their children that things at home will stay as close to how they currently are as possible. For instance, parents should let their children know that they will still be able to participate in the same activities, play with their same friends and possibly remain enrolled at their current school.


Once parents have explained their decision to divorce to their children, they should be prepared to answer more questions in the days following this announcement. However, on the same day that this news is made known to their children, parents should consider staying in the same house for the night to avoid creating a sense of abandonment and schedule a family dinner once one spouse moves out to their new place.

Regardless of the circumstances, divorce is often a highly emotional issue for children to deal with. Parents who are concerned about how their impending divorce will affect their children should reach out to an attorney who can guide them throughout the duration of the process.

Keywords: divorce, parents, custody, children