Parenting Together After a Divorce
Kane County Family Law Firm
When you have a child with your partner, you are linked to that partner for a minimum of 18 years. In reality, you are linked to that partner for the rest of your life – your adult child's life will likely bring graduations, perhaps a wedding, maybe grandchildren for you, and years of family celebrations and milestones to acknowledge and celebrate. In many cases, an individual's parenthood outlasts his or her marriage. When you are working through the divorce process, the prospect of co-parenting with your former spouse after your divorce can seem daunting. You might feel a flurry of emotions that include resentment and fear, especially a fear of having to cede control to the court to determine your parenting time schedule. The court creates parenting time schedules based on what it feels are in the child's best interest, which is often an arrangement that allows the child to have substantial time with both parents. After your divorce is finalized and you adjust to the new normal of your parenting time routine, incorporate the following strategies to make it easier for yourself, your children, and your former partner.
Communication with your Former Partner is Key
Co-parenting is a collaborative effort. As with any other collaborative effort, communication with the other party is key to its success. When an issue arises with your child or your schedule, talk to your former spouse about it. Do this with issues of all sizes, from letting him or her know that you will be a bit late to pick up the child to notifying him or her if your child has gotten into trouble at school or is in danger of failing a class. Even if you are no longer a couple, you are still a team for your child.
Find New Ways to Spend Time with your Children
Part of adjusting to a parenting time schedule is determining your changed role and how you will relate to your children after the divorce. Of course, you are still Mom or Dad. But you might be in a new home and not seeing your children every day.
Find ways to embrace this change by making new traditions with your children. The time you spend with them should be time spent building and maintaining a relationship, rather than simply providing a place for them to stay for a few hours. Pick up a new hobby, start a project, or take enriching day trips with your children to bond with them over new, engaging experiences.
Ask your children about the things they do with their other parent and build on these, rather than ignoring them. If your child enjoys taking nature photographs with your former spouse, find time to go out to take photographs with your child during his or her time with you. Co-parenting is about supporting each other as parents, rather than trying to compete with each other.
Keep Adult Emotions and Discussions Away from your Children
You might not agree with everything your former partner does. You might even feel that his or her behavior is detrimental to your child's well being. The person to speak to about this is not your child – it is your former partner and, depending on the circumstances involved, your lawyer.
If you truly feel your child is in danger, contact your lawyer to file a report with the Department of Children and Family Services. You need to do all that you can to protect your child from abuse or neglect and record any instances of either with the correct authority. But the overwhelming majority of issues that occur between co-parents do not warrant this type of intervention. The kinds of disagreements that might arise between you and your former partner include:
- An appropriate bedtime for your children;
- Academic and social expectations;
- Altering your parenting time schedule or child support amount;
- Your child's healthcare and diet; and
- An appropriate time to introduce your child to a new partner.
All of these are issues that should be resolved privately between you and your former partner, not your child. Never speak badly about your former partner, his or her new partner, or others such as the new partner's child, to your child.
Work with a Kane County Family Law Firm
Parenting with your former partner after your divorce can be stressful. Even between fairly amicable parents, the stress of going through a divorce and starting a fresh chapter can put pressure on this relationship, causing conflicts that affect their ability to co-parent effectively. If you are a parent considering divorce, currently going through a divorce, or a single parent navigating the world of parenting post-divorce, work with an experienced Kane County family lawyer to sort out all legal issues that may crop up. Contact our veteran legal team at Shaw Family Law, P.C. today to schedule an initial legal consultation with us.