Your world may center around your child, but when it comes to a divorce, it can be challenging to know just how much of a role they should play.
As a general rule of thumb, parents should never put kids in the middle of any divorce-related dispute or ask them to weigh in on inappropriate topics. But there are times when their voice is important to listen to. Striking a balance can be complicated but crucial.
When your child’s involvement is appropriate
Your child’s opinion or preference can be an essential factor in details that directly affect them. Child custody is perhaps the primary issue when this can be the case.
Depending on your child’s age and maturity level, they may have a well-reasoned opinion about which parent they want to live with. There is no legally defined age for when courts will take a child’s preference into consideration, but at no age will their opinion be the only factor in custody determinations.
Your child may also have valuable input on issues like deciding who gets the family pet or whether a parent can relocate.
Under these limited circumstances, you can work with professionals to ensure your child’s voice is heard respectfully and appropriately.
When to shield your child
In most other scenarios, part of your job as a parent will be to shield your child from the difficult realities of divorce. You should not drag them into your arguments or try to turn them against the other parent, which could lead to allegations of parental alienation.
They typically should not attend divorce proceedings, and you should keep divorce-related discussions age-appropriate.
Finding the balance
Listening to your child during your divorce is crucial; their voice matters to you as a parent. And knowing that someone hears them, answers their questions and helps them understand what is happening is vital for their own well-being.
However, when it comes to the legal process and adult matters related to your split, keeping your child out of the conversation is generally in everyone’s best interests.