Perhaps the hardest part about the divorce process is telling your children the news. It is going to be heartbreaking for anyone, whether they are learning of the divorce or delivering the news. In fact, many people are content to spend the rest of their lives in unhappy marriages just so they do not have to endure this painful moment.
First and foremost, fight the urge to speak poorly of the other spouse. keep in mind that, despite your differences, your ex-spouse is still a parent of your child, and no one likes hearing bad things said about their folks. This is arguably one of the most important things to know about divorce.
Additionally, before talking to your children, this is assuming that you have discussed the matter with your soon-to-be ex-spouse. There are few things more traumatizing than being a child and telling your parent that your other parent plans to divorce them.
Not far behind that, though, is assuming that your children understand that they are not to blame. While it may be obvious to you, children are self-centered by nature–depending upon their ages and maturity rate, they may not have developed the capacity yet to really understand what is occurring. Although sometimes it seems obvious that it is a matter between you and your ex strictly, it might not appear to be the case with the youngsters.
Obviously, things like arguments should be kept out of the ears and presence of others. If there is a disagreement and you know it is bound to escalate, excuse yourselves outside the earshot of the kids and keep things cordial. By not doing so, it is likely that your children will feel like they must side with either one parent or the other, and especially for younger children, that is a choice that they should not be forced to make. On a side note, it may not be a bad idea to document the frequency of any arguments for the sake of divorce law.
Finally, please do not ask your children whether they think you should get a divorce or not. This is not their decision. This is your decision, and this is your life. Even though the results of that decision impact them, you are the parent and that burden should also be one kept from the shoulders of those who should not carry them.
As for what to actually say, let them know that they are still loved–that the problems between you and your spouse have nothing to do with them and that both you and your spouse still love them just as much as ever. Even if both you and your ex cannot stand one another, letting your kids know that they are still just as important as ever in both of your lives.
Regardless of your child custody and support concerns, the underlying theme of how to handle breaking the news of your divorce to your children is up to you. However, this is not going to be an easy experience for anyone in the family to endure. However, this is a rebirth, and although there are beautiful and wonderful things that result from that, every birth has its share of tears and pain.