3 Practical Tips for Parents in an On-going Divorce
When it comes to emotional crises, the most difficult advice to receive and follow are those dealing with more practical matters. As a Family Law Attorney, it is certainly challenging. There is a client in front of you, you learn the most intimate (and difficult) details of a person’s failing marriage, and along with sympathizing with their situation, it’s also necessary to set ground rules to help make this transitional time easier.
This advice is not going to make the stress and difficulties of an ongoing divorce disappear, and it isn’t meant to. But for many clients, when their attorney is willing to help with the smaller details, it hedges some of the larger problems from ever arising.Make Notes
It is amazing how a small thing like a notebook can make the difference during this process. A notebook, which is meant to be passed between parents, should contain up-to-date information regarding the child’s life. No one can be expected to recall every little detail that happens with their children on a day-to-day basis. That is why a notebook is so important as it provides helpful reminders to ensure that important dates, appointments and other information is properly communicated to the other parent at the next moment of contact.
We recommend the notes to center around 3 issues:
- Health – Doctor’s visits, Doctor changes, and new medications. Parents should both attend all doctor appointments, if possible.
- School – Communication with teachers, upcoming projects, or any disciplinary actions. Parents should both be involved in the child’s school and they should individually receive all notifications and events from the school.
- Social – Times for phone usage, using the computer, playing games, and their limits to each one (especially for disciplinary reasons). The child or children should be able to have a phone conference or video conference with the non-timesharing parent every day.
Nowadays, a physical notebook may not be necessary. Applications such as Our Family Wizard and Talking Parents facilitate the exchange of this information between parents electronically. Parties can even have the application on their phone and will receive an alert when the other parent updates their page or sends a message.
At Vilar Law, we also suggest parents keep a personal notebook in case there are issues involving time-sharing that arise. A parent can keep track of when they request time-sharing with their child and children, if it is being restricted by the other parent. Parents can also make a record of any issues that may arise related to time-sharing or the exchange of the child.Present a United Front
Yes, many couples find it challenging to work collaboratively with each other after, or while, dealing with a problematic divorce.
But that must be set aside. Children must know that they have stability at home, no matter which home that might be. Maintaining consistency and a routine for children during this difficult time should be a priority for both parents. For instance, it may be helpful to the child to have a similar bedtime at both houses, so that they do not experience a change in routine when changing time-sharing.
Of course, that does not mean that parenting disagreements can’t or won’t happen. But when such disagreements do arise, it is vital to discuss them in private, away from the children, and to otherwise shield them from the divorce process to the fullest extent possible.Be Diligent
Maybe while married one parent played the disciplinary role, while the other would metaphorically “sneak a cookie while the other’s back is turned.” There may be room for this while parents are married, but after a divorce, this can only unsettle the child and create problems for the stricter parent. It is incredibly unfair for one parent to be on the receiving end of “but Mommy/Daddy lets me do it…” This places the child in the middle of an on-going battle between parents, and can only lead to future behavioral issues. Each parent should be both the disciplinary parent and the fun parent. Otherwise, the children will know how to manipulate and pin one parent against the other.
Article updated October 26, 2020.