W. Tyler Moore, PC

How can parents explain divorce and child custody to their child?


When two parents in Texas divorce, they must break the news to their child. Not only will they have to explain to the child that their marriage is ending, but they also must let the child know what their life will look like post-divorce. The following tips may help parents explain these difficult topics with their child, with the ultimate goal of keeping the best interests of the child in mind.

If parents are able, they should sit down with their child together when breaking the news of the divorce. They do not need to give their child every last detail regarding the reason behind the divorce, just what the child needs to understand the divorce. It is OK for parents to acknowledge that the divorce makes them sad. At the same time, children need to be reassured that it is not their fault their parents are divorcing. Finally, children need to be reminded that their parents will always be there for them and that the child is still loved very much.

These tips are valuable for explaining divorce to a child, but once a standard possession order addressing child custody and visitation is established, parents will also need to explain this to their child. A standard possession order determines when each parent will have the child in their care. This includes not just which evenings, weekends and weekdays a parent will have the child, but also how holidays and summer break will be handled. A standard possession order will also contain information on how, when and where they will exchange the child when it is the other parent's turn to have the child in their care.

When explaining to a child where they will live and when post-divorce, parents need to do so in a way that the child understands. This may look different based on the child's age. For example, explaining the standard possession order to a five-year-old will be different than explaining it to a 15-year-old. Like breaking the news of the divorce, children need to be reassured that their parents love them and will care for them. In the end, making sure the child understands who will be taking care of them, when and where can be crucial in helping the child adjust to the divorce.

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