So you have made it through the tumultuous period of your divorce process. If you and your ex-spouse had children together, the complexities of this separation run deeper than just the legal finalization of a divorce. Now your family must successfully navigate implementing all of those decisions you made during mediation, collaboration, or in the courtroom regarding raising your kids together, separately. Below are a few tips for tackling co-parenting your children in the wake of divorce.
Any unresolved feelings about the divorce should not be up for discussion during the middle of a conversation about custody arrangement, school performance, or any other topic focused on the wellbeing of the children. Keep any issues or grievances you have with one another separate from communication about your kids to draw a line between relationship conflict and co-parenting alignment.
The daily lives and routines for your children are bound to differ between their two homes, but developing consistency for them where you can is key to smooth transitions. From custody scheduling and frequency of communication with the other parent to major disciplinary consequences, try to maintain the most impactful elements of their routine. The more consistency your kids feel, the sooner they will begin to see their lives in two homes as the “new normal.”
The primary decisions that fundamentally shape the way your children are raised should be made and agreed on together by you and your co-parent. Issues like major medical decisions and choice of school should have alignment by both parties. If you have trouble agreeing on these topics or experience consistent hurdles with it comes to these core elements, consider co-parenting counseling such as family restructuring therapy. Help from a third party can assist in bridging the gaps that exist after divorce.
Your children have as much to adjust to in this new life as you do, and it’s easy for them to feel like they have to grow up more quickly or carry emotional burdens. Avoid adding that weight for them to carry and encourage them to be carefree kids. Never make them be the messenger between you and their other parent, and be aware of placing any kind of responsibility for your feelings on their shoulders.
Don’t encourage your feelings about your ex-spouse to be the same feelings your children have about their mom or dad. Help maintain those positive feelings by avoiding negative talk about your co-parent in front of the kids and by encouraging their excitement over being at their other home. Additionally, when you have to discuss the dynamics of your family changes with your kids, approach the subject in a way that’s appropriate for their developmental level.
Although you and your co-parent might no longer maintain the same level of trust in one another, you did make the decision to have children together and had that level of intimacy and trust at one time. It can be incredibly difficult to release control of what is happening in the other home, but maintaining the level of parenting trust you once had in your co-parent is important to fostering both harmony and confidence in your children and in both parents.
One of the most vital things to remember when co-parenting after divorce is that your children’s time, regardless of custodial schedule, still belongs to them. Practice flexibility when you can, to allow your kids the ability to experience special moments, from birthday parties to extended family visits. A little give and take can go a long way toward creating memories your kids will cherish, no matter where or when those memories are being made.
The challenges of separation exist far beyond signing divorce papers. An experienced family law attorney at Shafer Law Firm can support you in helping set your kids up for success during and after divorce. Contact us today to discuss your needs.
About the Author: Kyle M. Janes
Kyle grew up in Meadville and attended Meadville Area Senior High. He attended college at Allegheny College. Upon graduating from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, Kyle returned to Meadville to serve the community where he grew up.
Kyle has a diverse family law practice, including divorce, support, custody, juvenile dependency, adoption, pre-nuptial agreements, protection from abuse, and other domestic relations issues. His compassion for his clients and his knowledge of the law allow him to work on a full range of cases, from simple to complex.
This content is provided for general informational purposes only, and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information contained in this post should be construed as legal advice, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in, or accessible through, this Post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.