Separation and divorce can be one of the hardest storms a family has to weather. But even on rainy days the sun can make an appearance. Despite any hard feelings, it’s important for parents to work together to make sure the children remain unscathed as the family dynamic changes. Of course, this is easier said than done, but there are ways to smooth out the co-parenting process and help you and your ex co-parent like champs!
Separate Feelings from Behavior
This is a big one, and perhaps the most difficult one to achieve, BUT it is also the one that will reap the most benefit for everyone involved.
Emotions run at an all time high during the divorce process. Anger, hurt, and resentment are still raw, life is in a period of flux, and you feel like it’s all you can do to hold your head above water. It’s easy for parents to allow their hurt feelings to influence the decisions they make for themselves and their children. However, being spiteful hurts the innocent party (your child) far more than it hurts your soon-to-be former spouse. Truly wanting what is best for your child means exercising self-discipline over your words and actions in front of your child. The greatest gift you can give your children is permission to love their other parent. A dependable routine and benevolent parents can make a world of difference to your children’s adjustment during this time.
Create a Parenting Plan
If you haven’t already had one established by the court, or if you are in the very beginning stages of separation, you and your co-parent will need to establish a plan for the children. This includes who will get them, for how long, who will pay for what, etc. Keep in mind that the goal throughout your divorce is ensuring that it is as stress-free as possible on the children.
A parenting plan will allow you and the other parent to come up with a workable agreement, and help you to avoid arguments or confusion down the line. For instance, unless one party is moving far away, agreeing to keep the children in the same school, go to the same babysitter’s after school, attend sports practices as usual, etc., are all things to incorporate into your parenting plan that will make life easier on you all.
At some point during separation, either mom or dad finds a new place to live. This is perhaps the most difficult aspect of divorce for the children and should be handled with sensitivity and patience.
Many a parent argument has broken out due to item being left at one home and not making it back, or one parent not sending something the child needed. Fortunately this is a relatively easy problem to solve:
- Never tell your child they can’t bring a special item to the other parent’s home. Often these articles are “comfort” items, and make your child feel at home no matter where they are.
- Allow them to decorate their room in the new house. Having them involved in creating a new space for themselves will make having two homes more exciting and less sad.
- Be patient when your child accidentally leaves something at the other parent’s house and needs you to retrieve it. How many times have you arrived in a hotel and realized you forgot to pack something? Now imagine doing that multiple times per month and being a child. Imagine if you had to pack up your things and move back and forth between two places several times a month – extend grace to your children and your ex.
- As much as possible, keep a set of things at your house that your child doesn’t have to take back and forth: clothing, undergarments, socks, toiletries, etc. The less they have to bring, the more your house feels like home instead of just a place to visit.
This is one of those things that people don’t realize is important until a situation arises! Typically couples share a place in the home where the family’s important documents are kept. When you separate, it is wise to have certified copies made of the children’s birth certificates, social security cards, and insurance cards. This way, if an emergency develops, one parent won’t be left scrambling to get necessary information from the other.
Along this same vein, always be certain you include your ex on all forms related to your children. They should be listed on everything you fill out every single time.
Contact an Experienced Texas Family Law Attorney
If you have questions about an existing or pending custody agreement, or need assistance though your separation or divorce process, we can help. The Hollwarth Law Firm is proud to offer our clients quality legal advice with sensitivity and care. Contact us today to see how the Hollwarth Law Firm can be there for you.