Even the strongest relationships can be destroyed by infidelity. In fact, it’s reported as one of the top reasons why couples file for divorce. But what happens in the event where a marriage is broken by unfaithfulness, and there are children involved? Even if you and your partner decide to resolve your differences, in the unfortunate circumstance that your children learn about the affair, it could complicate (and upset) matters even further.
In the latest edition of Love Court on the Alice 96.5 Morning Show, Jessica Anderson took us through the reality of infidelity in a marriage leading to a divorce – particularly when children are involved – after receiving the following question:
“My husband and I are getting divorced after 15 years of marriage. We have two kids – an 11-year-old daughter and 13-year-old son. We agree that he is getting the house. I moved out last weekend. We share custody 50/50. The divorce should be final any day. My son confided in me last night that he overheard my husband talking on the phone to someone yesterday and he believes that my husband has a girlfriend and that she plans on moving into our house soon. I’m beside myself. For one thing he told me there was no one else which was obviously a lie. Also, even if there is someone else it is way too soon to be moving them in with my kids. What can I do from a legal standpoint to make this happen? My kids have already been through so much.”
What are the effects of infidelity and divorce on the children who are unwittingly involved? Read more to find out.
It’s Not Just About You
Everyone in a family is affected by infidelity in one way or another – especially the children. The effects are compounded when the act of infidelity is linked to the divorce of their parents; there’s no way around it.
Depending on the circumstances, infidelity affects all children in different ways. Children may pick up on the signals of unfaithfulness with or without fully comprehending the situation. In the featured question above, the unfortunate reality is that children involved are both aware of the situation, and comprehend the potential impact that the events to follow could have on their family structure and dynamic moving forward.
At the very least, all children will be able to sense that their parents are feeling upset or betrayed, and that there is a level of unrest in their home – even if they aren’t expressly told what is happening.
According to experts, children who learn of parental infidelity behave similarly to those whose parents have divorced, noting that the emotional reactions linked to infidelity are more intense and can have more significant, long-lasting effects on young minds. Pair the two together, and you’re guaranteeing a whirlpool of emotions in your little ones, no matter their age and circumstances.
For this reason, it is crucial to keep an eye on your kids during these challenging times. Whether or not they are aware of the infidelity issue at hand, their thoughts and emotions are important, and will have a lasting effect on them for years to come.
As Jessica mentioned during this episode of Love Court on the Alice 96.5 Morning Show, “If you’re in that situation, I recommend for you to pay close attention to what your kids are going through – especially if they’re not showing it.”
What should you do in this situation?
The difficult decision of whether or not the infidelity issue should be disclosed to the children is a common concern amongst parents going through a divorce. Unfortunately, this question doesn’t have a right or wrong answer. In saying this however, the majority of professionals have come to the conclusion that whilst children shouldn’t be told too much detailed information about what happened, being honest is always crucial.
If your children are young, it may suffice to simply mention that Mommy or Daddy has done something wrong. Older children on the other hand might be able to figure the situation out on their own, or worse – suspect something more. For this reason, if your child discovers something or ever has any questions, you shouldn’t lie to them. Tell them the truth, always.
To make sure that your children feel secure (and loved) by both you and your partner, you’ll need to put in extra time and effort – no matter what else you’ve got going on. Make sure you address all of their concerns, and give them the time they require to think through what is in fact a very adult topic.
Above everything else, always make sure to remind them of just how much you love them.
Anyone who finds out about an affair and a subsequent divorce is naturally devastated, but children are particularly affected by the news. In these difficult times, allowing children to voice their feelings will help them to feel heard and better understood. If necessary, you might even want to look for assistance to ensure that everyone receives the care (and counseling) they might require.
We also know that every case is unique, which is why applying the same textbook approach to every situation will not lead to a just and practical end result. Every case deserves specialized thought and legal expertise – a service we are proud to offer.
For real, specialized, expert advice from trusted Reno Family Law and Divorce Attorneys, contact us today.