Divorce is the ultimate way for a married couple to decide to divide their lives. It’s a way of stepping back and declaring that you’re going to go your separate ways and do this on your own from now on.

If you’re parents, though, there is one more thing you need to do together: Tell the children.

Don’t leave it up to your spouse. Don’t race to be the first to break the news so that you can paint yourself as the “good guy.” Instead, gather the children, have a family meeting and present a united front.

This has been shown in studies to make things go more easily for the children. After all, getting divorced does not change your parental relationship to them. They need to hear about that from both of you since they’ll still likely be involved with both of you after the divorce.

A united front also helps show the children that they did not cause the divorce, something that is a common concern for them. You and your spouse can stress together that this is something you talked about and decided on for your own reasons.

Finally, you just get a chance to reassure the children that you love them and care about them. As a family, you may already start talking about the potential child custody setup and where the children will live. These decisions impact everyone, and so, everyone should be involved.

Telling the children is just the first step. You still need to officially create a custody schedule, and you must know what rights you have as this process begins.

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