How To Tell Your Teen You Are Filing for Divorce

Talking to children about divorce is an overwhelming yet unavoidable task for any parent. However, the way that parents convey this news to their teenage children can significantly impact how they handle the news and move forward within the new family arrangements. 

How To Tell Your Teen You Are Filing for Divorce

Guidelines to Explaining Your Divorce

Divorce will cause a significant change to your family unit and may have a serious impact on your teen. Use these tips when explaining to your teenage child that you are getting a divorce.

Share the News Early and Do it Together with your Partner

When telling teens about divorce, it is crucial not to conceal too much information. If possible, consider delivering the news as a united front, as this makes your child feel that even if you get a divorce, you are still united as a family and remain as such in the future. 

Reminding your child you are both committed to putting their well-being first and foremost can help ease apprehension about upcoming changes, including changes to schedules and visitation. 

Do not drop the bomb before important events, such as their exams or competitions at school. Plan a time that gives your child plenty of time to process their feelings and cool down. Consider doing it on a Friday or during the summer holidays when they have time off from school to allow the news to settle. 

Do Not Talk Negatively About Each Other 

Even if you and your partner resent each other, there’s no reason you should express those emotions in front of your child.

“Besides hurting your teen’s relationship with the other parent, belittling your spouse in front of your child is a serious offense that can land you in trouble with the divorce court,” warn divorce attorneys at Ciancio Ciancio Brown, P.C., “it is important that you keep the kids out of your differences and do not place them in the middle.”

Teenagers are old enough to realize that divorce often comes with picking sides, making the prospect all the more difficult to digest. 

Communicate empathically with your teen so they do not need to pick sides. Let them know they are free to be hurt or angry by one or both parents, but they should never feel like they have to choose. 

Shed Light on the Things that will Stay the Same

Divorce can turn a teenager’s life upside down, and that is a scary thought. Children will naturally worry about how their parents’ split will affect them mentally, physically, and socially, which can be overwhelming. When you reassure your teen that both parents will still love them and nothing has changed in terms of support, this will allow them to feel more at ease. 


Give time and space for your children to express their emotions and react to the divorce. If they have a hard time expressing their feelings, you may consider taking them to a therapist or teen coach. Your child might not be entirely comfortable voicing their thoughts with you; this is where a professional can help them tremendously. 

Common Teenager Reactions to Divorce News

Teenagers normally experience a range of painful emotions when confronted with the reality of divorce. You can expect the following reactions:

  • Initial shock 
  • Bargaining with parents to stay together and fix the problem
  • Feeling lost, abandoned, and dejected 
  • Anxiety about potential changes
  • Experiencing hatred and anger
  • Blaming oneself, both parents or one parent
  • Having financial insecurities
  • Refusing to talk or engage with the parents
  • Minimization – downplaying the severity of the situation
  • Feeling guilt and a profound sense of loss

Research conducted by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry shows the long-term effects of divorce on teenagers can include depression, deep sadness, susceptibility to developing mental and physical illnesses, low self-esteem, relationship problems, and experiencing behavioral problems.  

Find Support

Getting a divorce is never easy, and you may be dealing with mental, physical, and emotional issues during this difficult period.

Leveraging a network of support for yourself and for your family can help you navigate this time, helping everyone transition to find a new “normal”.

Consider speaking with a therapist, divorce attorney, and connecting your teen to a school counselor or therapist to ensure everyone is feeling supported through the inevitable changes of divorce.

Julie Higgins
Julie is a Staff Writer at She has been working in publishing houses before joining the editorial team at momooze. Julie's love and passion are topics around beauty, lifestyle, hair and nails.