Children finding out that their parents will soon divorce often have quite a few questions. It’s important for you and your ex to work together to address your children’s concerns and ensure that they know the divorce is not their responsibility or fault. It is typically best if everyone in the family can sit down together to discuss this big, upcoming change.
However, it is very likely that your children will re-approach the topic as time goes by during and even after the divorce. Especially in circumstances where you get a divorce because of poor behavior on the part of your spouse, such as conducting an extramarital affair, you may feel tempted to tell your children the real reason that you and their other parents split up. However, doing so may not be the best idea and could even have an impact on your custody situation.
What you say could hurt your children’s relationship with their parent
Regardless of how terrible a spouse your ex may have been, they are still your children’s other parent. Your kids will depend on the relationship they have with your ex just like they depend on their relationship with you. If you damage their perception of their other parent, that could both damage their self-esteem and their trust in that other parent. You don’t want to do something that will hurt your kids in the long run.
Your ex could allege parental alienation to punish you through the court
While you may have done nothing but tell your children the truth, if they repeat what you say to your ex, you could find yourself in a difficult legal situation. Your ex could potentially use what your children say to show the courts that you have engaged in parental alienation by trying to turn the kids against them.
Despite the fact that what you said was true, if the courts determine that your intent was to damage that relationship, they could limit your parental rights and parenting time because of what they perceive as dangerous behavior.
The chances are good that as your kids get older, they will figure out what really caused the divorce on their own. Telling them when they are still young will do more harm than good in most cases, so it’s important to me very carefully consider your family circumstances before doing so. That way you can avoid any unnecessary custody issues in the future.