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Common Childhood Reactions to Separation

Common Childhood Reactions to Separation

Childhood reactions to separation can vary greatly. All children have reactions to the news that their parents are separating. There are some common reactions that happen when parents decide to live apart. Parents need to be ready for the inevitable role they will play in co-regulating their child’s reactions to this news.  A home environment is typically created as the central point of security for children. It is the place that people invest most of their time and energy to design, shape, and structure healthy and happy environments for children to grow.

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A home is where the heart is, is an adage that refers to the quality of relationships, bonds, and experiences family members share together over time. More important than your child’s personal contents, children will grieve the loss they experience when they learn that mom and dad are no longer together. Very young children have great difficulty understanding the reasons why their parents decide to separate. This is especially true where the reasons to move on are related to sexual or emotional affairs. It is helpful to simply validate or recognize your child’s reaction by saying, “I know this is hard for you to understand”. Where there is more than one child in the family, it is good for children to have some one-one-one time with you to express what is likely to sound confused. School-aged children will commonly express concrete questions like; “Where will mommy live now?”, “When we I get to see dad?” or “Does this mean I have to draw pictures of my family without my daddy in it?”.

Childhood Reactions to Separation

Older children and adolescents will also be confused about the reasons for parental separation and their own feelings about it.  Sometimes, teenagers behave as though it does not really matter to them or that it makes little difference if one parent moves away. This is more likely to happen when adolescents have overheard a lot of arguing or fighting between their parents. Again, it is important to have some special time carved out for each preteen to discuss what you can share with them without over-disclosing some of the personal details of the marital relationship. It helps teenagers to hear, “It seems like you do not care that mom moved out, but I know that it is confusing to you. It is confusing to me too”.

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Childhood Reactions to Separation

No matter how old your children are, it is critical that they hear you will both be their parents for life, and that you will continue to love them unconditionally despite the changes that are expected to happen like moving into a new home, condo, or apartment. Children and adolescents benefit from hearing as much about the plans you are able to share in the early days of separation. For example, “Dad will be going to live with his brother Tom for a couple of weeks before he finds a new place to live. He cannot live here anymore, but you and your sister and I will remain in this place for the time being.” As plans take shape and become clearer, it is advisable that parents share these details with your children.

Your children are a part of your family, and they will experience all the loss and grief that you feel alongside you both. They will need both parents to hold it together and to present some level of composure to reassure them that no matter happens, everything will be okay.

Author: Lisa Romano-Dwyer PhD, RSW

LRD/May 2019

Worried about childhood reactions to separation? Reach out to our law firm toll free at 844-466-6529 to book a meeting with Lisa Romano.

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What are Separation Agreements?

Are you looking to learn more about separation agreements? Every couple experiences challenges in their relationships. Some disagreements are irreconcilable and the couple may contemplate separation or getting a divorce. This is a huge decision to make for couples. Couples may still be highly emotional at this stage of their relationship. Making a huge decision like getting a divorce may not always be the wisest thing to do at this point.

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All About Separation Agreements

Choosing to separate before they dissolve a marriage is a big decision. It provides space for the couple to be able to contemplate many important areas of the separation process. Further, it allows them to be more logical in making major decisions. That will make the separation process more orderly. Therefore, less painful process for the couple and the children involved.

It is also a good holding period for the couple to think over how they can save their marriage. Maybe they will decide it is better for all the family members involved to finally terminate the union. A couple is not considered legally separated until an agreement is formed. Further, a court must serve an order terminating the marriage.

How Do Separation Agreements Work?

A separation agreement is a document stating the terms of the agreement. It is made between a married couple who have decided to separate for an indefinite time period. It serves as a document that terminates the rights of cohabitation between the parties. The agreement does not however legally terminate the marital status of the couple.

A couple contemplating separation should think about the following conditions of separation:

  • Division of assets and properties
  • Child access and custody
  • Child support
  • Visitation arrangements
  • Bills and debt arrangements
  • Occupation of the family residence
  • Alimony or spousal support
  • Other financial arrangements (health insurance, social security or pension benefits, taxes, etc.

Why seek a separation agreement before a divorce?

Getting a separation agreement allows a couple to stay legally married. This works while they are still trying to figure out how to resolve marital concerns which include the option of finally getting a divorce.

Many couples seek to acquire a separation agreement instead of divorce. Many people don’t necessarily want a divorce yet. They might be still trying to work things out but want to live apart during the process. Religious, social and moral belief systems can make them hesitate to terminate marriage through a divorce.

Government and insurance benefits can be retained while maintaining a marriage status. Some couples do not want to go through the hassle that comes with the divorce process. Many just want to live separate lives.

A separation agreement is a requirement for some states or regions when filing a no-fault divorce.

Click here to learn how to apply for a divorce in Canada.

Do I need to get an attorney? 

Many separations require a court hearing and therefore, consultation with an attorney may be appropriate. It may be wise to consult with a family lawyer prior to seeking a separation. This will ensure that all rights and responsibilities concerning the children and each partner’s debts and assets are protected.

Consulting with a lawyer will help you understand your rights. It will also help you determine the best options for your situation. In the event that the divorce proceeding is necessary, your attorney can help you plan in advance. Your counsel can assist you in drafting, editing, and reviewing any separation agreements in accordance with the contract laws.

Read more about the law:

Are Separation Agreements Legally Binding?

Typically, a separation agreement becomes legally binding if it was ordered by a judge during legal separation proceedings. During separation proceedings, the couple can file a separation agreement with the judge for approval. If the judge endorses it, then the agreement becomes enforceable. Privately established separation agreements may be legally binding according to contract laws. It must meet all the provisions of a valid contract.

If either one of the partners violates the agreement somehow, the other spouse essentially can bring an application in court. They might claim moral damages or plead the court to order to complete the performance of the contract. Basically they want an order requiring the other partner to follow the agreement.

A separation agreement does not have to be filed in court to be legally binding. The agreement is basically like a contract between two people. As long as the couple is legally able to enter into an agreement, a separation agreement is warranted. You need to get ILA from a lawyer. This means each couple will have their own lawyer.

If both parties couldn’t agree on the terms of separation, the judge may create a court order. This order must be fulfilled by each party.