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How do you explain custody to children?

On Behalf of | Apr 19, 2024 | Child Custody

Divorce brings profound changes into a child’s life, uprooting everything from their daily routine to their sense of security and stability. During this challenging time, children may struggle with feelings of loss and fear of the imminent changes they are about to face.

Such challenging times will require clear and compassionate communication in the family to discuss what the divorce will mean for them, especially involving living arrangements and custody. More than just providing information to the children, this conversation must address the emotional turmoil and confusion that might otherwise overwhelm them.

Be clear and simple

During a divorce, custody is just among the subjects that can be frightening for children. Explaining custody with clarity and compassion can help clear up their confusion and make them feel safe and supported. Using simple language to describe the legal implications of custody types might make the changes seem less daunting.

  • Physical custody – This simply refers to where your child will live after the divorce. You may explain to them that there may be times that they will have to live with either parent, but note that they will always have a home with both.
  • Legal custody – The parent with legal custody makes decisions about important matters like school and health care. However, reassuring them that their parents will work together to prioritize their welfare is crucial.

Address their feelings

Your children will undoubtedly have concerns as your family goes through this difficult time. Allow them to ask questions and express their worries, especially regarding their education and plans for the future. During these discussions, answering their questions with honesty and compassion is essential. 

Although extremely difficult, having an honest conversation about custody is vital in fostering a sense of security in their life. Always strive to make this talk as loving and positive as possible. If you find it challenging, professional guidance on family law and mediation may help you through this process.