One of the hardest things you will have to do in your divorce process is tell your child or children that you are divorcing their other parent. They have probably figured out that there is a lot of fighting and tension in your house, and they probably know that both their parents are pretty unhappy.
Psychology Today has a pretty good article that gives good guidance. I wanted to expand on some of their ideas.
Be truthful with your children. They have likely already figured it out that something is going on.
Give your children room to express their emotions. One of the hardest things you will have to do is keep your own emotions under control as you do it.
Let your children ask questions, but do not get tempted to blame someone for the divorce. Have your narrative, which is a joint one, that you will fall back on. This could be, “we want our fighting to stop so we can be better as parents” or “You did nothing to cause this. Mom and Dad just fight too much to be together”. If you are parenting already in different homes, you can tell them that you have decided to make it permanent. But do not blame your child’s other parent or ignore the question by telling your kids it is adult stuff.
You may spend lots of time reassuring your children that they did not cause your divorce. It may be best to seek the advice and help of a therapist in advance, or, in the alternative, have appointments set up for your child to see a counselor. Your child’s school probably has a list of counselors they have worked with in the past. Your insurance company also probably has a list of therapists. Your children also have friends whose parents are divorced. Be ready to use them as an example.
Be ready for your children to act out, whether it be by becoming clingy, trying to get you back together or breaking rules. If they seem insistent on getting you back together, consider watching Mrs. Doubtfire. If your children are clingy, understand it will pass and you should use the opportunity to discuss their feelings. If they are acting out, then you need to let them know the rules still apply and take the opportunity to discuss it with their other parent to apply the rules uniformly.
If you can your soon-to-be-ex can make it through that, and you are ready to move forward, please reach out to see if I am the right lawyer to help you.