If you are in an abusive relationship, it is important to have a game plan for how you will talk to your kids about your divorce in California. Of course, your conversation will need to be age-appropriate and must also factor in the element of abuse in your relationship, but the approach is basically the same as other types of separation.
Start by explaining your situation
Most parents in abusive relationships tend to feel the urge to either portray the abuser as the “bad parent” or gloss over the issue to protect their children. Neither approach will help your child cope with your divorce. Instead, you may want to explain the truth in a way that is honest yet not too graphic so as not to overwhelm them with too much information. You should also make sure to include both sides of your story. Let them know it was not just one person’s fault and that there are issues on both sides that have caused the breakdown of your relationship.
Talk about safety for all parties
If your kids already understand what happened in your marriage, then it’s time to move on to how the divorce will affect their safety. Make sure they know that no matter what happens during or after the divorce process, everyone involved will remain safe. Explain why you cannot stay together anymore, particularly if domestic violence is a factor in your decision to part ways.
Create an open dialogue and encourage questions
Finally, remember to create an open dialogue – encourage questions, listen to their concerns and let them know they will always have someone to turn to. This will help them process their feelings so that when the time comes, they can better cope with the transition into a new life without their parents together.
Regardless of your situation, it’s important to understand that both parents are essential in a child’s life, especially in the developmental stages. The judge will certainly make decisions about custody arrangements and any other matter concerning your child based on their best interest. However, their decision will depend on the evidence or information you will provide regarding domestic violence in your home.