How do we tell the children that we’re splitting up?

Recently, I did a live chat in the Facebook group (Separation, Divorce and Dissolution UK) with Susan Leigh. Among other things, we talked about how to tell the children that you’re splitting up.


Ideally, sit down with your spouse/partner and agree where you will have the conversation with the children and what you will tell them. It should be done together if at all possible, in the family home, where the children feel safe and comfortable. If you agree a time to do this, please do stick to it, or you may find that your spouse/partner tells them on their own in their way.

What to tell them

The most important part of this is to focus on the fact that the children will still have two parents who are very keen to both remain part of their lives (hopefully this is the case). You are separating from your partner or spouse, not from the children. They should be clear that it is in no way their fault or responsibility and that you as parents love them very much. You should also let them know that you will be part of their lives moving forward, even if you are living in different houses.

Age Appropriate

When you are agreeing on what to tell the children, ensure that it is age appropriate. Very young children may just need to know that mummy and daddy will be living in separate houses, whereas older children could be involved in the arrangements that are made for them to spend time with both parents. You may also want to consider Child Inclusive Mediation, where the children will speak confidentially to a mediator, with any information they wish their parents to know being fed back.

They Don’t Need the Details

It is important to remember that you are speaking to your children, not your friends. They don’t need to have the details of the separation. They don’t need to be told who did what, or whether someone else was or is involved. You can offload this to a friend, family member or therapist but not to your children. They should be able to see you both in a good light.


You will need to be prepared to answer questions. They may be worried about money, where they are going to live, will they still be close to friends, go to the same school and see both parents. If you haven’t worked it out yet, let them know that there may be some changes, but reassure them at the same time that they will still see their friends and both of you.

Agreeing Children Arrangements

The Family Courts would rather parents agreed the arrangements for their children between them, rather than involving the court. They feel that the parents are the best people to make the arrangements and that both parents should play a part in the children’s lives, unless there are safeguarding reasons why this shouldn’t be the case. There is a chapter in our book “Your Divorce Handbook: It’s What You Do Next That Counts” on this subject, written by Carole Nettleton. It also covers the potential orders and how to apply to the court if it is necessary.

Tamsin is a Chartered Financial Planner with over 20 years experience. She works with couples and individuals who are at the end of a relationship and want agree how to divide their assets FAIRLY without a fight.

You can contact Tamsin at or arrange a free initial meeting using She is also part of the team running Facebook group Separation, Divorce and Dissolution UK

Tamsin Caine MSc., FPFS
Chartered Financial Planner
Smart Divorce Ltd

P.S. I am the co-author of “My Divorce Handbook – It’s What You Do Next That Counts”, written by divorce specialists and lawyers writing about their area of expertise to help walk you through the divorce process. You can buy it by scanning the QR code…

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