An Oklahoma divorce is a very stressful time in a family’s life. It may be less stressful to teens, depending on the circumstances of the divorce. For example, if the parents have been fighting between each other for years, the divorce may come as a relief. On the other hand, if the teens were not aware that there were problems in the marriage, it may come as a total surprise. Since teens are more mature than younger children, they will have many more questions about how the divorce will affect them, such as where they will live and whether they will have to leave their school and their friends. You should tell your teens the truth as soon as possible and then help them deal with the feelings that the news generates.
Talk to Each Other Before Talking to Your Teen About Your Oklahoma Divorce
Often one parent will inform his or her teens that the parents are getting divorced, and then the other parent will talk to the teen about the divorce separately. Typically, each parent’s view of the divorce is somewhat different and each is prone to attribute the reason for the divorce to the other parent. What then generally happens is that the teen will get two versions of why the divorce is occurring. This can cause them to feel mistrustful of both parents.
The first step parents should take is to discuss the divorce with each other and come up with a mutual story. To help teens come to terms with the divorce, it is most helpful for them to hear only one consistent story. In addition, with both parents taking responsibility for the divorce, teens are relieved from the guilt and confusion associated with feeling that they are not supposed to love the “bad” parent because it may upset the “good” parent. Teens should not be placed in the middle of a loyalty conflict.
Ideally, the talk should take place with both parents present in a familiar environment, such as the home they have been living in. You should both ensure that you are not rushed by appointments or other obligations so that you can be there as long as needed to answer your teen’s questions after sharing your news. Their first wish will probably be that you can get back together and go on as you have been. Their second wish will more than likely be that you, the parents, can cooperate and get along with each other without fighting.
What Information About the Divorce Should and Should Not be Discussed with Teens
The fact that the divorce is not the teen’s fault should be discussed. Children and teens are quick to decide that they are the cause of a divorce. You should make the reason be about you, the parents, in a way that makes it something they can live with. For example, you grew apart as a couple, but both are their parents and will always love them.
Do not share negative aspects of the reason for the divorce with your teens. This can ultimately cause them to feel the need to choose sides. Teens should never be put in a situation where they must make choices based on the parent’s anger at each other over their inability to live together or get along with each other. For your teen’s sake, do not talk negative about one another in front of them. Put on a solid front to support your teens during this stressful time in their lives and help them adjust to their new circumstances as quickly as possible.
Does the Teen’s Preference of Who He Lives with Matter?
According to Oklahoma statutes, in any action for custody of children, the court will consider whether it is in the best interest of the children to be allowed to express their preference for which parent they wish to have custody. By law, there is a rebuttable presumption that a child that is 12 years of age or older is old enough to form an intelligent preference. Generally, the court will talk to the children without the parents present so that it can form an opinion on the maturity of the children and whether it believes that they can form an intelligent, thoughtful and well-reasoned preference. If the court determines that the teens are mature enough to make a preference, the court will consider that preference along with other factors before making a decision.
Free Consultation: Tulsa Divorce Attorney
If you are considering divorcing your spouse, a Tulsa divorce attorney has the skills to help you through every aspect of filing for and obtaining an Oklahoma divorce, including child custody. Call Divorce of Tulsa Law Office at 918-924-5526 to schedule your free consultation today.