As you are working out the details of a child custody case, you have to make sure that you are keeping the children at the heart of the matter. Parents sometimes think more about the logistics instead of the children’s feelings. You have to find the balance when you are in this position.
It might help you to remember that your children have rights throughout this process. These don’t take away from your ability to parent them, but they do put forth a good set of guidelines for you to follow, even after the divorce and custody order are finalized.
#1: Remain free from tension
Your children shouldn’t have to deal with tension between you and your ex. Instead, keep things civil when you are both attending activities for the children, even if it is just the child exchange.
#2: Not to be used as a communication medium
No child should be asked to pass messages between parents, especially if they are regarding contentious matters. Using texts, phone calls, emails and similar methods, you should be able to have suitable communication with your ex.
#3: Live as a child
Children need time to be kids. They need to play and have a good time. They should be able to have down time and fun experiences. This might mean that you and your ex need to work together to make things like extracurricular activities and vacations possible.
#4: Spend time with both parents
Your kids need to spend time with you, but they also need time with the other parent. With very few exceptions, such as a case involving child abuse, you should encourage the time that your child has with your ex.
#5: Build relationships with other family members
Some children worry about what is going to happen with other family members, such as cousins. You should foster these relationships, even if you have to adjust the parenting schedule so they can see family from out of town when possible.
#6: Stay away from emotional issues of parents
When you and your ex have stressful things going on, resist the temptation to use the children as tiny therapists. Even teenagers don’t need to be subjected to the emotional drama of their parents. Instead, connect with a trusted friend or family member to whom you can talk.
#7: Maintain a similar lifestyle
Your children might not understand what it means to have everything stripped from them all at once. It can be hard to keep up the same lifestyle as what they had during the marriage, but you and your ex should work together to keep as much of the child’s life the same.
#8: Express their feelings and concerns
The transition of going from married parents to two different households is difficult. Encourage your children to let you know how they feel. Discuss their concerns. Try to be as open as possible during this process.
#9: Have fun with friends
Your children need to be able to spend time with friends. Even if you are moving, you should do your best to encourage continued communication so that your child can have some stability. Also, don’t get so focused with having your child next to you when you have parenting time that you forget to let them see other people, too.