During divorce, children often feel torn between two parents and two separate lives. They are mourning the loss of the family home and the life they once had. In addition, both parents often struggle with misunderstandings, miscommunications, frustration and the natural competitiveness that two households create.
And, this is natural because neither parent signed up for this. They did not sign up for their kids separately. Nonetheless, there are some keys to making the new co-parenting relationship successful.
Effective communication and documentation
The first step is to figure out how to effectively communicate with your former spouse and document all understandings and interactions. From the effective communication perspective, this may mean going to counseling. Learning how to communicate with your former spouse may also help you communicate with future spouses as well.
Documenting communications can also make sure that if you think you understand something, it allows the other spouse to point out if there is a miscommunication. Plus, putting communications in writing can help if court is needed later.
For example, after a telephone discussion about weekend plans, “based on our conversation, I’ll meet you at 7:00pm at your house to pick up the kids, and I’ll drop them back off at your house on Sunday at 8:00pm after dinner.” If this is not a correct understanding of your weekend plans, your spouse will let you know.
Making parenting plans and sticking to them
At some point, the court will determine custody. It could be some 50/50 split, or some other custody framework. Once that is done, you and your ex-spouse will need to make a parenting plan splitting up times, holidays, school events, etc.
This can be done years in advance, and once it is decided, that is the plan. Every effort should be made to stick to that plan. Remember, for your child’s mental health (and your mental health), consistency is key. Only true emergencies should be used to deviate from that Fort Myers, Florida, plan.
A key concern of parents is that the children do not feel like they are transient. Instead, they want the child to feel at home in both parent’s homes. This can be done, but it requires getting buy-in from the children.
This means bringing the children to the homes while home or apartment shopping, along with allowing them to help decorate the new place. It also means taking items from the old home to use in both homes, and giving each child their own space in both homes. The key for Florida families is to divorce openly, honestly and with the best interest of the children at heart.