Protecting Your Child’s Mental Health During Divorce: A Guide for Parents

Tips for Supporting Children Through Divorce
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Even when both parents take steps to minimize the impact of a divorce on their children, separation and divorce can take a toll on their mental health. Children can pick up on subtle cues from parents who are stressed out or upset during this transition in life. For children, divorces also come with changes in living environments and other substantial changes.

By working with The Valley Law Group services and considering steps like divorce mediation, you can minimize the negative effects of divorce. Throughout the divorce process and after, there are proven steps that can prioritize your child’s mental health so they can better cope and adjust to the reality that their parents now live in separate homes and lead separate lives.

Understanding the Impact of Divorce on Children

Children whose parents are undergoing divorce are statistically more likely to have emotional and behavioral problems.  Children of divorcing parents are also more likely to struggle in school. Understanding the signs and symptoms of child mental health divorce problems can be key to providing prompt and effective mental health care for your son or daughter.

Feeling Sad

You may notice that your child is more prone to crying and displaying signs of sadness. Often, it may be difficult to comfort your child when they appear to cry for no apparent reason or for a minor reason. It may be natural to think that the divorce is causing the outburst, and it certainly could be a factor.

Children’s emotions can be complicated, and changes to their normal family routines are often enough to upset them. If they are older, they may worry that they will not be able to cope with the new changes to family routines.

Constant Worries

Constant Worries

Another common sign that your divorce is having an effect on the mental health of your child or children is that they worry more often. They may exhibit this worry by being more clingy than they used to be. Feelings of worry can often show up at night when they resist going to sleep or being separated from you. They may also voice hypothetical reasons they are worried.

Children are naturally prone to worrying, but going through a divorce or divorce mediation can heighten and intensify those emotions.

Less Interest in Activities

Children can express worries about divorce in different ways. While some kids may become more prone to outbursts, other children may withdraw when they are feeling stressed. Patterns of normal behavior may change, and they may want to spend less time with friends. If your child is spending more time in their room and avoiding socializing, it may be time to take proactive steps to help them cope with the divorce.

Outbursts and Arguing

It is hard to predict which behaviors a child may exhibit when their parents go through a divorce. However, it is fairly common for children to struggle with managing their emotions and lash out at their parents, siblings, and friends. This can add stress to an already stressful situation. Therapists and counselors can help your child communicate their feelings rather than resorting to outbursts and anger.

Trouble at School

Being productive in the classroom requires that children are well-rested and able to focus on the tasks at hand. Stress situations like divorce can lead to declines in academic performance. When there are serious uncertainties about the future, children can have difficulty staying on track. It can help to communicate to teachers that you are going through a divorce. That way, teachers can be more forgiving and understanding when issues arise at school. Hiring a tutor or finding ways to supplement your child’s education can help them not fall behind during this period of transition.

Trouble at School

Strategies For Supporting Children Through Divorce

Here are some additional tips for helping your child adjust to the new family situations as the divorce mediation and other divorce-related steps move forward.

Work with a Counselor or Therapist

Therapists play a crucial role in helping children cope with their parents’ divorce. Counselors can provide a safe space for children to express their feelings, fears, and concerns. Therapists and counselors can help children understand that the divorce is not their fault and provide age-appropriate explanations about what’s happening. They offer coping strategies to deal with emotions such as sadness, anger, and confusion. Additionally, therapists can work with parents to create a supportive environment for the child and help them navigate co-parenting effectively.

Maintain Routines at Home

Routines and stability are important for your child’s development. Even as life throws your kids uncertainties, a consistent routine can lend a sense of stability during those uncertain times. Going through a divorce can seem like a tumultuous time in your life, but it is important that you maintain routines like bedtime stories and participation in sports for your children.

Children may need a sense of normalcy more than ever, and regularly scheduled activities offer a healthy way for them to take their minds off what is happening at home. Any routines or activities that your children were used to should be kept with as much regularity as possible. To the extent that it is possible, try to maintain consistency between both houses that your children occupy.

Be Mindful of How You Talk About Your Spouse or Ex-Spouse

Divorces are emotional, but you should keep your emotions to yourself when it comes to describing the other parent. Children understand from a young age that they were created by both parents. Hearing one parent speak ill of the other can make your child feel like there is something wrong with them.

Be mindful not to put your children in the middle of any uncomfortable situation. One example could be asking your child to deliver a message to the other parent. This should be avoided whenever possible. Also, avoid asking your child questions about your spouse or ex-spouse’s home life or personal life.

Remind Children That the Divorce Is Not Their Fault

Remind Children That the Divorce Is Not Their Fault

You might assume that your child is not blaming themselves for the divorce, but children are complex individuals. They also may not understand the scope of why their parents are divorcing. Children who are on the younger side (between 3 and 7) are more likely to have conflicted feelings that may turn to self-blame. Periodically reminding your child that none of the divorce is their fault can help alleviate one source of stress from your child.

Be Honest

Children are more perceptive than many people acknowledge. When you withhold the truth or lie to protect them, it can backfire. Instead of safeguarding them, lying can lead to confusion and sadness, impacting their mental well-being. It’s crucial to be on the same page with your partner about what to disclose to your children. Seek the assistance of an attorney or schedule mediation to reach an agreement.

It’s natural for children to have questions about divorce. Encouraging them to approach you with honesty allows them to cope more effectively. Let them express their fears and feelings without feeling defensive while you listen.

Maintain Parental Barriers

Children are not equipped to act in the stead of adults and should not be expected to be your confidant. Even your mature teenager should not be burdened with your personal thoughts and feelings on the divorce. Allow your children of any age to be children. Treating them like a friend and unloading your feelings is inappropriate and may end up leaving your child with an emotional burden they are not equipped to handle.

Divorces can be financially stressful but do not share your financial burdens with your children. They may notice certain changes in your spending habits and lifestyle, which may be unavoidable. However, communicating financial struggles adds to their fears and worries.

To the extent that it is possible, work with the other parent to ensure continuity in your children’s activities.

Allow Children to Have Emotional Reactions

We cannot shield our children from the realities of life. While you can take steps to prevent undue hardships and harm to our children, you should allow space for them to be with their feelings. Working through feelings is a great life lesson. You can monitor their behaviors to ensure that nothing they are going through is more than they can handle.

The Legal System and Your Child’s Well-Being

Arizona’s family courts are deeply committed to safeguarding the well-being of children. As you navigate through your divorce proceedings with the help of your family law attorney, it’s important to understand that your child’s welfare can be a shared concern among you, the child’s other parent, the court system, and both legal teams.

The Legal System and Your Child’s Well-Being

With the assistance of a compassionate legal team, you can ensure that your child’s mental health and interests are prioritized as custody agreements, parenting plans, and other crucial arrangements are formulated and finalized.

In addition to addressing custody and visitation schedules, temporary or final orders issued by the court typically include language prohibiting either parent from making disparaging remarks about the other. This measure is in place to protect children from being caught in the crossfire of parental conflict. The family court system in Arizona recognizes the significance of such measures and ensures that the well-being of children is not overlooked.

The Valley Law Group is dedicated to facilitating child-centered divorce proceedings that aim to minimize conflict and stress for the children involved. By working with a legal team that understands the complexities of family law and prioritizes the needs of children, you can navigate your divorce with greater confidence and compassion.

Collaborative Divorce and Mediation as Tools for Protecting Mental Health

When divorces are collaborative and are settled without the need for extensive litigation, children benefit. A smoother, more collaborative divorce process helps lower the emotional temperature for both parents. Children may notice the difference at home.

Benefits of Collaborative Divorce

Collaborative divorce is built upon the fundamental belief that even amidst the dissolution of a marriage, two parents can come together and work toward shared objectives. Unlike traditional divorces, which can be riddled with conflicts and prolonged legal battles, collaborative divorce aims to streamline the process, minimizing unnecessary delays and emotional turmoil.

It is common for people to assume that animosity and anger are inherent aspects of divorce proceedings. However, this isn’t always the case. Collaborative divorce emphasizes constructive communication and cooperation between spouses, focusing on finding solutions that benefit both parties and any children involved.

One of the key reasons collaborative divorce is gaining popularity is its recognition of the long-term impact on co-parenting. Even after the divorce is finalized, parents who share children will continue to be connected through their role as co-parents. Learning how to co-parent effectively is essential for the well-being of the children.

Children who witness their parents working together amicably during and after the divorce process are more likely to adapt well to the changes and grow into emotionally resilient adults. When parents prioritize communication, respect, and cooperation, it fosters a stable and nurturing environment for their children to thrive in, even in the face of divorce. Collaborative divorce isn’t just about ending a marriage. The goal is to set a positive foundation for the family’s future dynamics.

Benefits of Mediation During Divorce

Even in cases where both spouses are committed to resolving their divorce amicably, conflicts can still arise, necessitating the assistance of an outside mediator. These conflicts might stem from disagreements over property division, child custody arrangements, or other sensitive issues. The role of a neutral third-party mediator is crucial in facilitating productive discussions and finding common ground for these difficult areas of the divorce.

Benefits of Mediation During Divorce

Mediators are trained professionals who have undergone specialized training in conflict management. Many of them bring years or even decades of experience to the table, having previously worked as attorneys or judges. This background equips them with a deep understanding of the legal aspects of divorce as well as the emotional dynamics involved.

One significant advantage of mediation, especially concerning children, is that mediation allows both parties to walk away feeling that they have been part of a fair and equitable process. When parents engage in mediation, they have the opportunity to voice their concerns, express their desires, and work together to find solutions that are in the best interests of their children.

Children can benefit greatly from this approach. Unlike contentious courtroom battles where decisions are imposed upon parents, mediation empowers parents to actively participate in shaping the outcome of their divorce. This collaborative process can reduce conflict and tension, creating a more stable and supportive environment for children during a time of significant change.

Furthermore, mediation often results in agreements that are more tailored to the unique needs and circumstances of the family. This can greatly help children in the long term.

By fostering open communication and compromise, mediation encourages parents to focus on the well-being of their children and build a foundation for effective co-parenting in the future. Divorce is undoubtedly a challenging experience for families. Mediation offers a constructive path forward that promotes understanding, cooperation, and, ultimately, a smoother transition for all involved.

Resources For Families Navigating Divorce

If you are going through a divorce and worry about how your children are coping with the changes to their lives, there are many free online resources where you can read tips and advice from trusted sources. The Child Mind Institute is a nonprofit that has a wonderful blog post about supporting children during a divorce. The American Society of Child and Adolescent Psychology provides free online resources for parents to learn advice and tips for helping their children stay in good mental health.

The Valley Law Group is proud to offer comprehensive online resources through our Arizona family law resource page. There, parents can learn about important topics related to marital agreements, child support, child custody, and divorce resources — all selected from trusted sources.

Schedule Your Consultation Today

Schedule Your Consultation Today

Going through a divorce can be one of, if not the most challenging, experiences you can have as a parent. There are no easy answers or fool-proof solutions for guiding your children through divorce mediation and other parts of the divorce process. Still, by incorporating the tips in this article and seeking professional therapist help when needed, you can reduce the stress and uncertainty that your children may be experiencing, even if they have a difficult time communicating their feelings.

Just as children and adults are different, so too are family law firms. The Valley Law Group understands the complexities of marriage, divorce, and raising children.

We have experienced many of the same situations that our clients are going through and have guided hundreds of clients through the divorce process. If you are looking for an experienced family law firm that understands the effects divorce can have on children, The Valley Law Group is here to help. Contact our office to schedule your divorce consultation today.



  1. Parker, W. (2022, February 20). Statistics About Children of Divorce. Verywell Family; Verywellfamily. https://www.verywellfamily.com/children-of-divorce-in-america-statistics-1270390
  2. Ehmke, R. (2022, April 28). Supporting Kids During a Divorce. Child Mind Institute. https://childmind.org/article/supporting-kids-during-a-divorce/
  3. Resources for Parents. (n.d.). Www.aacap.org.  https://www.aacap.org/AACAP/Families_and_Youth/Resource_Centers/Depression_Resource_Center/Resources_for_Parent_Depression.aspx‌

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