In the pain, messiness, and anger that often go hand-in-hand with dissolving a marriage, it can be easy to forget that you’re still a family. It may look a little different but if you have kids, you’re obliged to find a way to at the very least keep the peace— and maybe even become friends down the line. In fact, acknowledging that a new version of your family will continue even post-divorce can be a helpful way to prevent a split from getting messy. Here are some tips to ease the process.
Don’t Disparage Your Ex In Front Of The Kids
This one is big. Ask any lawyer in Broomfield and they’ll tell you that oftentimes clients put their kids in the middle of fights with their spouse or force them to choose sides. This can even happen unconsciously in the form of small jabs about the other parent or offering up a less enthusiastic response when your kid raves about some aspect of their mom or dad’s personality.
These are the times to pull on your big-boy/big-girl pants and say something like, “Daddy has always been great at frisbee. I remember thinking that when we first met.” As hard as it can be to dole out compliments when your heart is breaking, it means everything to your kid. A parental split boosts anxiety in children, so you want to make every effort to reassure them that you still see all the same great things in their dad as they do.
Do Create A Co-Parent Agreement
When a couple is living together under the same roof, it’s easy to be in sync. You have likely chosen most of your kids’ activities together, and always had meal times and weekends planned out well in advance. In other words, the family was a well-oiled machine. But living in a different space makes it essential to have a clear sense of who will be doing what when. That way, you never risk inconveniencing the other by double booking or failing to show up at school when it’s your turn to get the kids.
A divorce lawyer in Erie or a divorce lawyer in Westminster will recommend documenting things like bedtime, mealtime, screen time—and all other activities that matter to you. Bigger topics include things like what schools you want your kids to attend, where and when you each want to take a vacation with the kids—along with the possibility of sharing vacation time once a year. Of course this is a big step and won’t work for everyone. But don’t discount the possibility that one day, when the pain has faded, you might even be able to enjoy each other again in a new way.
One of the joys of having kids is marveling at their development and noting the traits that make them unique. Try to make space for the possibility of enjoying your children together at a future date, after the dust has settled. Your kids will thank you.
When It Comes To Custody, Think Outside The Box
If you ask a child custody lawyer in Erie, they’ll tell you that kids whose parents don’t share custody don’t adjust as well to a parental split. This isn’t surprising. Your kids were likely quite content having access to both parents daily, so it’s no wonder that they’d find it hugely disruptive to their lives when the living situation radically changes. Increasingly, exes are finding creative configurations in terms of living setups that put the wellbeing of their kids first. These include:
Maintaining A Home Base
Labeling one space as the home base is a common arrangement. That way, kids can continue to go to the same school and play with the same kids on their block. It gives kids a sense of structure and normalcy during a stressful time. In these situations, the second parent takes the kids every other weekend and sees them once or twice a week. However, some parents find this difficult if they aren’t living in the primary home.
A Nesting Arrangement
This is a trickier arrangement, but if executed well it can greatly rescue upheaval for your children. The nesting approach sees the kids staying in one home while the parents take turns staying with them. A second residence is then shared by the exes when they aren’t with the kids. This situation tends to work best during the transition period after a new split. Once there is the possibility of introducing a new partner into the picture, things can get complicated.
Investing In A Duplex
This living situation can be ideal for the right family. Kids living in the same house can come and go to either parent’s home as they please, without having to pack. Of course, this only works if a former couple is compatible and respectful of each other’s newly independent life. And it can get messy once new spouses are introduced because privacy is significantly reduced.
A Half/Half Split
Kids in the 50-50 arrangement divide their time equally between both parents, spending a week at each. The thinking behind this is that parents and children have a chance to get a flow going and kids aren’t always coming and going, which can be stressful and disruptive. But many parents don’t want to go as long as a week without seeing their kids. It can also make school drop-offs challenging if parents live on opposite ends of the city.
In fact, one of the most mature and generous choices parents can make post-split is to live as close to each other as possible. The name of the game is giving each child as much access to both of you as possible. By living close by, your kid can easily pop in to say hi or to grab the clarinet they left behind.
Creative custodial arrangements are endless. It starts with putting your kids first and doing everything in your power to work through your grievances so that you can continue to co-parent and give your children the happy and stable life they deserve.