Guest Post: Tips on Co-Parenting Post-Divorce
Divorce Lawyer Tips on Co-Parenting Post-Divorce
It is understandable that two people who get divorced might have less than positive feelings for one another. If their relationship was wonderful they would probably have not gotten divorced in first place. As a practicing divorce attorney I understand just how difficult it can be to put aside your negative feelings, especially when you may have very good reasons for those feelings. But if you have children from the marriage it is absolutely critical that you and your spouse learn to treat each other civilly, especially when you are in front of your children.
When Should You Tell Your Children
Effective coparenting begins far before the time the divorce is finalized and even some period of time before the couple separates. When the parents become aware that there is no hope of reconciliation, then they need to shift to coparenting mode and present a united front to the children. The fact that the couple is going to get divorced and separate in the near future needs to be explained to the children as calmly as possible.
It is far better for both parents to tell the children at the same time. Neither should blame the other parent for the breakup and the children need reassurance on a number of points, particularly that the divorce is not their fault, that each parent will always love them, and what exactly will stay the same and what will change in their lives. While this is obviously a traumatic and difficult situation for a child of any age to deal with, if both parents cooperate at this stage it gives their children the best chance of adapting in a healthy way.
Avoid Using Your Children As Messengers
Sometimes it is simply not possible for exes to have a happy, friendly postdivorce relationship. In extreme situations the relationship will be degenerate into one where the parents refuse to communicate with one another and instead pass messages back and forth via the child.
This is an impossibly unfair situation to put your child in so it is important to not fall into this trap. If the relationship is so bad and time has not healed those wounds, then you should try to communicate via e-mail, text message, or voice mail. But absolutely do not put your child in the position of going back and forth between the two of you.
Dealing with a New Spouse or Love Interest
Depending on your circumstances of your divorce it is completely understandable that you might have some negative thoughts towards the new love interest in your ex’s life. This could be especially true if the marriage ended because of an affair with this person.
Remind yourself about what is most important in this situation, your child. You don’t need to be best friends with this new person, but you want to at least act civilly towards them so that it does not appear to your child as though you have animosity. Give your child the opportunity to decide on their own how they feel about this person. If they develop a good relationship with this new person make sure you encourage that so they don’t feel guilty or as though they are somehow being disloyal to you.
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