In more than 12 years of working in family law, I’ve worked with hundreds (thousands?) of individuals and couples who have decided to end their marriage. A significant portion of those marriages involved children. Some of those marriages ended amicably, many did not. But, no matter how the marriage ended, you’re still going to have something in common for the rest of your lives together: your love for your kids.
Here are a few tips to keep up your sleeve as you navigate your next chapter with your ex, while keeping your kids the #1 focus:
“Pay special attention to maintaining traditions. During the time you and your ex raised your children together, you probably created some family traditions together, too. Maintaining holiday traditions like Santa arriving Christmas Eve, can help reinforce some normalcy for kids and make them feel more secure.” – Christine Powers-Leatherberry, Connatser Family Law
If you haven’t started planning the 2017 holidays with your ex, start now. If you and your ex are unable to come to agreement, you may need the court’s assistance – and it can take 4-10 weeks to get a hearing.
To get started, ask yourself these questions:
And remember: if you already have a court order or parenting plan in place: review it annually. Time can change things a lot. As your children get older, they can spend longer periods of time away from each parent. Your conflict sometimes lessens, and holidays may have become easier for you and your ex to navigate.
“As a divorce lawyer, and having to currently co-parent with an ex, I can tell you that communication should be on autopilot. Yes and no by text are perfect ways to communicate. There should be no emotion in the response and stick to plain facts. Try to build mechanisms so you have to communicate as little as possible. For example, use Google Calendar to notify one another of events, and have communication from the schools send directly to both parents.” – Amy Saunders, Esq., Legal Solutions
As hard as it may be for you, for the good of your kids, it is important that you and your ex maintain regular communication about their schedule.
“My recommendation is to get past the anger of the separation and remember that you were entrusted with one of the greatest responsibilities in this universe – to raise mentally and emotionally stable, productive young people who are capable of making positive contributions to society. An angry and confused child is a possible starting point, but it definitely doesn’t have to continue that way.” – Dr. LaFarra Young-Gaylor of Young Pathology PLLC
No matter how young or how old your child is, keeping them in the loop about their own schedule is key to making them feel part of this, and not like an object shuttled from home to home.
In the end, remember that the #1 rule of co-parenting is that it’s about the kids, not about you. It can be extremely hard, but the more you can separate your disagreements with your ex from the way you both co-parent your child, the easier it will be for your child to continue feeling loved by both parents, equally.