Signing the divorce decree can feel like you have reached the finish line. The negotiating and bargaining is complete, assets and debts have been divided, and the logistics of the separation have been worked out.
Finalizing the divorce provides closure, but for divorcing parents it is also the official matriculation into new territory of co-parenting.
Co-parenting doesn’t begin once the divorce is final; it is a process that commences long before the decision to divorce is made. How parents manage the parenting process through the divorce will often lay the foundation for the parenting plan, which in turn is the framework for co-parenting after the divorce is final.
When the divorce becomes final, it isn’t uncommon for new challenges to arise and for parents to experience a roller coaster of emotions. One of the most common issues parents struggle with is the challenge of unequal parenting time.
The parent with less time can be left feeling isolated from the children. The parent with primary physical custody can be overwhelmed with trying to do it all.
In scenarios like this, it is important to remind the kids that even if both parents don’t have equal time, they are equally important. Reassure the child that both parents love them, and that even though they might not see them as much, they will be a stable presence in their lives.
Additionally, it is paramount that both parents focus on being consistent and predictable for the kids. Keeping a regular schedule, and reminding the children about changes early, can go a long way in reassuring the permanence of both parents in their lives.
One of the other big challenges of co-parenting after divorce is the inconsistency of rules between households. Mom may have a completely different set of rules than dad, and reconciling how to handle differences can be problematic.
It is important to be judicious in choosing your battles on this topic. When disagreements do arise it is important to deal directly with your ex and not ask your children to convey messages to the other parent.
Additionally it is important to do your best to maintain a positive attitude about your children spending time with the other parent. Regardless of how frustrated you might be with your ex, it is important you respect that your child loves them and wants to spend time with them.
Navigating the terrain of co-parenting after divorce is no easy task. If you are struggling with finding a balance in co-parenting or are feeling overwhelmed, it is advisable to work with a family counselor. A counselor can help you develop coping skills and tactics for managing your relationship with your ex productively— and make sure your kids’ best interests are served.
It is important to note that the above suggestions do not pertain to situations where domestic violence or child welfare is an issue. A Child’s safety should always come first. If your ex poses a threat to you or your children’s safety, contact the appropriate authorities immediately and speak with a family law attorney to ensure you protect your children and your rights.