Going through a divorce can be emotionally challenging, especially with young children. No matter how much stress you may be experiencing, the changes that your children are and will be going through have the potential to be scarring.
Understanding a few basic ideas of co-parenting with your ex-spouse can move toward a more positive process and outcome for everyone involved. New York state created a parent education and awareness handbook and program to help your family get through the tough times of a divorce or separation and provide your children with the stability and security they need.
Make decisions out of court
This is not always possible in the most extreme situations, but court time can be costly for both parties and emotionally taxing, especially for the children. The worse your split is, and the more you expose your children to it, the more likely they are to develop depression or anxiety.
Court decisions, particularly those that the other parent opposes, may look good on paper, but they have the potential to create long-term problems. The other parent may not want to follow the order at all. If you can learn how to communicate together in a healthy constructive way, without involving the children in conflicts, things will be better off. Sometimes that means seeing a counselor.
Develop a parenting plan
Write out a formal parenting plan with your former spouse; you can involve a lawyer or parenting coordinator. Lay out as many details as you can, including weekdays, weekends, holiday breaks, birthdays and vacations. Decide how long you should both wait before introducing the children to a new significant other. Go over health insurance coverage, which schools you want them to attend, how you will be splitting costs, and whether you need to set up a child support plan.
Splitting your parenting time perfectly half and half does not always work for the best interests of your children. Do your best to keep things as close to what the children see as normal rather than being concerned over whether the other parent will be getting more time than you.
Some of these suggestions are easier said than done. If your separation includes extreme circumstances such as substance abuse, speaking with a lawyer may be necessary to seek full custody so you can provide your children with a safe and healthy home.