Divorce and separation are difficult regardless of whether you have been with your partner for one year or three decades. The end of a relationship will often have an impact on all those around you. If you have children, the divorce or separation will obviously affect them as well. In a divorce or custody action, a judge will enter an order which incorporates a schedule for visitation, as well as the division of other parenting duties. Just as you and your former partner will have to adjust to the parenting schedule, so too will your child. There are some steps you can take to help your child adjust to shared parenting.
First, be as consistent as possible between the two households. Children thrive with stability and consistency. The nature of the separation is disruptive to the children and to minimize that disruption, it is best to make the experience at both households as consistent as possible. Keeping the same morning and bedtime routines, similar household rules, and the same extracurricular activities will help the child feel more stable and secure.
Second, do not overshare details of the divorce or case with your children. There is sometimes a temptation to share a lot of information with your child about the case in order to help them feel more “updated” with the situation. Telling your child basic information like the fact you are getting a divorce or that the divorce has concluded are important pieces of information. However, you should avoid sharing deeply personal details, especially if those details disparage your spouse or try to put the blame on your spouse for the divorce or separation.
Next, preparing a visual calendar so your child will know when to expect to have parenting time with each parent can be immensely helpful. This is especially true if you and your spouse exchange the child every few days, as opposed to just every other weekend. Going back and forth between households so frequently can be challenging, as the child does not always know what to expect. Having a visual aid they can refer to easily can help reassure them and remind them of the schedule.
You can also help your child with the transition by staying connected with your child while you are not exercising parenting time. Staying connected will look different for different age groups. For example, for very young children you may want to consider having Skype or Messenger video chats. Alternatively, for a teenager, it may be easier to just text them directly without having to coordinate all contact with the other parent. Keep in mind, however, that your contact with the child should not be so invasive or inconvenient that it intrudes upon the other parent’s parenting time.
Do not underestimate the value of family or individual therapy for you and your children. Divorce or separation represents a difficult transition for you and your children, and having professional help to assist with the transition can really smooth your path. Professional therapists and mental health professionals have extensive experience in helping families deal with the difficulty of separation, and they may be able to help you reassure your children.
We have extensive experience helping our clients with all stages of divorce and custody cases. Call us today at 651-413-9568 and let our Minnesota family law attorneys talk to you about your future and how we can help you.