Should you talk to your children about custody?

If you and your spouse have decided that a divorce is right for you, then it’s time to talk to your children about it. Before you do, though, you will need to decide what kind of custody you are going to have. Will you share custody? Will one parent take over completely? Everyone’s situation is different, but that’s the first decision you need to make.

There are several kinds of custody that you and your soon-to-be-ex-spouse need to consider, such as:

  • Sole legal custody
  • Joint legal custody
  • Sole physical custody
  • Joint physical custody

Once you know which of those you’re planning on, then you should get ready to speak with your children about the changes that are about to happen.

Talking to your children about custody schedules

Once you and the other parent decide how you’re going to share custody of your children (if you will share) then it’s time to sit down with your kids to talk about the custody schedule. For most situations, children will share time with both parents. One parent may have primary custody while the second has visitation. Both may retain the legal right to make decisions and some physical custody time.

If your situation will be like this, explain to your children that they will now be moving between homes. Depending on their age, the custody schedule you have will need to be adapted to suit their needs as they grow. For example, a young toddler may need to go between homes daily or to stay in the same home with visits from the parent with visitation rights. An older teen may be satisfied with a bi-weekly schedule or one where they visit with one parent on a weekend.

When you discuss the scheduling and options in front of you, you should be sure to listen to your children and their concerns. Make time for those questions and be reassuring. In this situation, you are the leader and should lead by example. Be respectful of your spouse, and let your children know how both you and the other parent will remain in their lives.

Share On


Have more questions about divorce? Check out our Divorce Q&A.