Divorce or separation is a time of great upheaval for everyone in the family. Divorce agreements, parenting plans and other legal agreements will provide a legal template for the parents regarding visitation schedules, financial responsibility, decision-making involving the children, and other vital issues. But there are also adjustments to be a single parent, a coparent with someone you don’t live with, and a person who does not have a spouse.
Bad habits that don’t help the transition
It may not be an easy adjustment, but co-parents ideally hit a rhythm once they settle into a new routine. However, it is a good idea to avoid behaviors that are counterproductive to parents and the kids. These include:
- Making the kids choose: The parents divorced, perhaps cutting off contact with in-laws and certain friends, but they should not expect the children to avoid these people as well. Ties with extended family and friends often help the children’s adjustment to the new norm.
- Going negative: Regardless of the circumstances that ended the marriage, it is best to minimize negative comments or sordid details that ended the marriage. Painting a coparent in a bad light can harm the child or actually prompt the child to side with the other parent.
- Communicating through your children: Starting a sentence with “You can tell your father/mother” puts the children in the middle of hostile and stressful behavior. Also, leave them out of coparenting communications regarding schedules or coordination. Parents should have an established method for constructively communicating by email, text, or even web apps. Putting it in writing helps busy parents keep it all straight.
- Not detaching from your ex: It is smart to emotionally separate, which breaks the negative cycle that led to the divorce. Focus on the kids and not each other.
- Not setting expectations and limits on your kids: It is natural for some kids to act out or test boundaries. While the coparent may have a different relationship with the children or a different parenting approach, it is best to lay some agreed-upon ground rules (while being patient about the results), so the children know where they stand.
Divorce agreements can lay the groundwork
While dividing the assets a central part of a divorce, clients who work with an experienced, Board-Certified Texas Family Law expert attorney understands the nuances of creating a workable parenting agreement and establishing clear guidelines for how the family will move forward. Such an attorney can also help modify the plans to address the family’s changing needs or even help enforce the agreed-upon terms.