By Randy Morrow
Children aren’t oblivious to changes at home. If anything, they are brilliant when it comes to noticing and feeling even the slightest shift in the home atmosphere. It would be false to assume any efforts on your part to shield them from the facts will be protecting them from the horrors of divorce.
It is the fear of the unknown that can create the greatest anxiety. I suggest that those fears can and will be minimized by including the children in as much of the home sale process as possible. A divorce realtor can explain the process of readying a home for sale, helping the children understand why the house has to be kept straightened up; their toys put away; dirty clothes put in the hamper; bath towels kept off the floor; and on and on. They won’t think you are just ragging on them to clean up their rooms. Instead they will know the reason behind your requests. This will help reduce the stress level that is already high in the home.
I strongly recommend conducting the following conversation beforehand as a couple:
“Kids, come in here and let’s talk. Okay now, Mom and Dad have had to make an extremely difficult decision. You know we haven’t been getting along for quite a while now. You know, don’t you?
We have tried to work out our differences but it just hasn’t worked, so we have decided to divorce (or live apart). We both love you and want to assure you that our problems have nothing to do with you. We do not want to hide anything from you because you are smart, intelligent, and deserve to know exactly what is happening. We do not want to keep secrets from you.”
Children may start asking questions at this point after some crying; one will certainly be about the home. Assuming you are going to sell the home, turn the conversation into something positive and reassuring. Tell them you will be inviting a realtor or specialist over soon and you would like for them to be with you and ask questions.
Fighting and Arguing are certainly a concern. Wouldn’t it be so perfect if mom and dad could just admit the marriage didn’t work out, a divorce is the only answer, and calmly talk out an agreement? The reality is that intense emotions are involved, with one party usually feeling hurt, humiliated, and used more than their spouse. They may want to strike out and hurt them severely. Eight times out of ten these shouting matches will occur within an earshot of the children. And the children will never forget a single word you say or the tone you used. Never. My own parents divorced in 1960 and I can recount every single detail about things I saw and heard, including where they were standing in the room. Think about it. Hate each other; dislike each other all you want. But save the children from the strain.
Financial issues are usually very strongly present between a couple going through a divorce. Some couples will even destroy their children for the love of money. Maybe not on purpose, but the results will be the same. Let’s now combine money, arguments and the children. For instance, both of you decide a meaningless lawn ornament should be yours in the settlement. Neither one of you really care about the thing, until you find out the spouse has it on their list. It’s the principle of objects that counts. So you go to your respective attorneys. Let’s say each attorney costs $500 an hour. They spend an hour on the lawn ornament. There goes $1000 for a $20 item. That sets the tone for almost everything else the two of you own, right up to the point that attorney fees are reaching $15,000; $25,000; $60,000 respectively. That totals $30,000 to $120,000 spent on a principle that takes away from your children’s future. Somewhere in all this fighting each parent will claim they are doing this for the kids. I hope parents don’t walk by any mirrors after saying this because they will surely crack and shatter. If you are going to say you have the children’s best interests (mental & financial) at heart, mean it from your hearts. Every $10,000 spent on an attorney is $20,000 less to spend on college. By including the children in the process, it is guaranteed to cut the attorney fees; and lessen the negative impact on the children.
Randy is the nation’s leading Certified Real Estate Divorce Specialist. Having been through divorce five times, once when his parents
divorced when he was nine, twice when he himself was divorced in his thirties and two more times when both his sons divorced, he is all too familiar with the emotional, financial and legal aspects of divorce. Randy earned his designation as a certified real estate divorce specialist in
2010 and has quickly become the authority on the subject. He often gives talks on the aspects of divorce real estate and is an avid contributor to national blogs such as First Wives Social Network and Dr. Shannon Reece’s Strategies and Tactics for Women. Randy was nominated as Keller Williams
Icon of 2011. He is a certified mediator with the Northern Virginia Mediation Service and a Certified EcoBroker.