Parenting Tips — Before, During and After the Divorce

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Once you and your spouse have decided to part ways, co-parenting can become an extremely important issue. While you may no longer see eye to eye with your spouse, it’s essential to be able to put your differences aside for the benefit of your children. Parenting after divorce can be a challenge, but by keeping a few co-parenting tips in mind, you can help ensure your children’s best interests will be met.

Here are several crucial co-parenting tips to consider before, during, and after divorce.

Put Your Children First

It can be very easy to become consumed with the conflict between you and your spouse, and to lose sight of what is best for your children. Try to keep your disagreements and fighting with your spouse private and out of earshot of your children. To protect their emotional health and help them to feel less anxious about changes in the family, be sure to keep all arguments behind closed doors.

Remember Your Children Need Both Their Parents

Remember that your children need both their parents — and they love you both equally. Help your children foster a meaningful and positive relationship with the other parent and respect the role each of you play in your children’s lives. You should also model respectful communication and be aware that you are sharing your values with your children about how people should be treated when you interact with your ex.

Follow the Visitation Schedule

It’s critical to follow the visitation schedule that was agreed upon between you and your spouse, and ordered by the court. While most parents would do anything to be able to spend time with their children, it’s essential to understand that children may see a missed visitation period as a rejection — whether it was intentional or accidental. If the other parent needs to switch days, it is important to be flexible with the other parent and to make alternate arrangements when necessary.

Focus on Making Transitions Easier

Depending upon their age and other factors, some children have difficulty transitioning between homes each week. You should be empathetic to their feelings and try to understand why they might be engaging in certain negative behaviors. Don’t make them pack a bag, which can make them feel like a visitor. Instead, make sure that they have everything they need to be comfortable in each household and feel at home in both environments.

Do Not Speak Badly About the Other Parent

Sometimes a parent might feel like they have no control over the situation and they may say disparaging things about the other parent in an effort to influence the children or impact a custody case. However, badmouthing can have negative effects on a child’s wellbeing and lead them to feel anger and hurt toward one or both parents. This can also hurt the parent who is making the disparaging remarks. A judge can sometimes modify a child custody order to give that parent less time with the child if their behavior is harming the child’s well-being.

Develop a Parenting Plan Early On

By establishing an effective parenting plan early on, parenting after divorce can be much easier. This can help ensure both parents are actively involved in the children’s development and the children are put first. A parenting plan should be highly detailed and include living arrangements, visitation schedules, and dispute resolution methods. A good parenting plan can demonstrate to the child a unified front and love for them, even though they may no longer live together.

Don’t Put Your Children in the Middle

One of the most harmful things parents can do during divorce is put their children in the middle or use them as messengers. Children should not be used to collect child support, to spy or gather information from the other parent — and they should not be interrogated upon return from the other parent's home. You also shouldn’t discuss the divorce with your children or burden them with adult matters.

Aim for Consistency with Your Co-Parent

Although your parenting style may be different from that of your ex, children can benefit from consistency. By implementing similar rules, disciplinary methods, and rewards, the children will know what to expect and feel more secure. When children see co-parents work together, you are also setting a healthy example for them to follow.

Do Not Undermine the Other Parent

One of the most important co-parenting tips you can follow is not to undermine the other parent. You might not always agree with your co-parent, but contradicting them in front of the children can have a negative impact both on your relationships with both your co-parent and your children. In severe cases, underhanded undermining the other’s parent’s authority may even constitute parental alienation. It’s vital to respect your co-parent’s role and communicate with them directly about any issues rather than undermine them to your children.

Contact an Experienced Missouri Divorce and Family Law Attorney

Parenting after divorce isn’t always easy. However, a skilled family law attorney can help to guide you through the process of creating a parenting plan and resolving any custody disputes. Divorce and family law attorney Mark A. Wortman provides knowledgeable representation to clients in the greater Kansas City, Missouri area who are facing divorce and child custody matters. To schedule a confidential consultation to learn how he can assist you, please contact him today online or by calling (816) 523-6100.