Relationship breakups, whether it be divorce, separation or committed intimate relationships, is confusing and stressful for all families, but particularly so for the families with children. It is often difficult for newly separated parents to determine what kind of long-term parenting arrangement will be best for the children once each parent has established their own household.
In family law cases involving children, the court's primary concern is with the best interests of the children. This should be your primary concern as well. Here are some tips that will help you and your former partner co-parent your children as you navigate the process of establishing separate households.
Minimize chaos and establish a routine
Recognize that children are used to their routine and environment, try your best to maintain the routine as you all adjust to living in two households. Establish a "new normal" that reflects the old normal as much as possible.
Every family is different and there is no perfect formula for determining the right visitation schedule for a given family. An experienced family law attorney can help you develop a fair, balanced plan that is both tailored to your kids' needs and legally realistic.
Whether you have an informal or court-ordered schedule for time with your children, be sure to take that time on a consistent basis. If you absolutely must miss an opportunity to spend time with your children, be sure to contact the other parent right away and establish a time to make up for the missed visit.
Parental consistency and stability for children are also critical concerns for family law judges and commissioners when making custody decisions. Failure to follow your schedule for visitation could be harmful to your case and is certainly not good for your children.
Shield your children from conflict
It's also important that both you and the other parent make every effort to shield your children from legal proceedings, and from parental conflict.
In general, without casting blame, stick with age appropriate explanations of why one parent is no longer living at home. It’s very important to soothe a child's fears and confusion about the changes in his or her life, but your kids don't need to know the details of their parents' adult relationship.
Absolutely avoid getting into an argument with the other parent in the presence of your children. Address any grievances you may have with the other parent directly, privately, and as calmly as possible.
A formal parenting plan with specific provisions governing exchanges of your children can help you minimize face-to-face contact if you and your spouse are simply unable to interact without hostility.
Counseling is also a beneficial way to help the children and the whole family get through this difficult time.
Communicate (cautiously) in writing
Email and text messages are convenient ways to communicate with your spouse about your goals, concerns, and upcoming plans for your kids. There are several easy to use Co-parenting apps that can help parents establish a written record and reduce hostility, confusion and miscommunication.
But, most importantly - think before you click "send." Don't write or publish anything that you would not want a judge to hear. This also applies to social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Composing a long rant about your spouse's many flaws as a partner and parent might make you feel a little better in the short term, but your words are counterproductive to co-parenting.
If you’re unsure about how to best communicate with your spouse, the advice of an experienced family law attorney can provide you with a strategy for communicating with your spouse in a productive and effective manner.
Keep your focus on your kids
If the end of your relationship has been tough on you, just imagine how difficult it is for your kids. They're worried about you and they're worried about what is going to happen to them.
Check in with your kids to see how they're feeling. Talk to their teachers, coaches, and counselors, and work with them to make sure your kids aren't falling behind in school and other important activities. Try to be 100% engaged during your one-on-one time, even if you are feeling resentful or upset about the end of your relationship.
The benefits of continuing to be an involved parent no matter your relationship status, are intangible and invaluable to your children. Staying focused on your kids' needs not only strengthens your legal position, it also helps your children feel secure in an uncertain time.
Family Law litigation can be emotionally difficult and complex. Decisions made about each step of the litigation can affect you for many years. We have years of experience helping our clients through the difficulty of family law litigation and can help you through the process. Contact us today at (253) 838 – 3377 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org, to talk about your situation.
Disclaimer: All materials provided on this website have been prepared by Bains Law Firm for general information purposes only and no representation is made as to their completeness or accuracy. Information on this website is not intended as legal advice, and may not be relied upon as such. Only an attorney who can review the unique facts of each case and apply them to the statutes, case law and court rules can provide legal advice. Nothing in this website shall be construed to create an attorney-client relations