Divorce is never easy. But making it easier on your children—and yourself—is possible if you do these eleven things before, during, and after the divorce.
1. Prepare Your Children for the Change
If your children have an idea that something is up, they’ll be more prepared when it actually happens. Families that can talk about difficult issues together are better equipped to transition through them without additional stress or problems down the line.
2. Consider Counseling or Mediation
If you and your ex can’t seem to get on the same page regarding co-parenting, consider working with a third party who can help you communicate better and come up with a solution for everyone involved. Numerous options are available when it comes to divorce. Experienced divorce lawyers can help you navigate the process and even assist you with collaborative divorce, which is designed to help couples work together to reach agreements.
2. Separate Yourself from Your Spouse Before Making Any Decisions
The hurtful dynamic between you and your spouse can have a big impact on kids no matter how much they love both of their parents. You don’t want to make decisions in anger that can lead you to hurt one another. Even if you cannot be friends, try to put any personal agenda or feelings aside when it comes to your children.
3. Have One Spouse Maintain Legal Custody
Legal custody may go hand in hand with physical custody, but it doesn’t have to be shared at all during the divorce process and beyond if it’s in the best interest of your children. You’ll have to decide what’s best for all involved, but one parent may be able to keep legal custody if he or she can handle all the responsibilities.
This setup helps children since they won’t have to worry about switching homes or parents during the process. It also helps you since it can save time, money, and your sanity.
4. Remain Flexible
Going through a divorce is a messy business that could take months or even years to settle. It’s important not to get too comfortable with any arrangements you’ve made because circumstances are likely to change along the way. Openness and flexibility will help bring about more positive results when you’re forced to adjust your plans to continue co-parenting in the best interests of your kids.
5. Find a New Normal
It’s going to take some time before your family is fully comfortable with the changes. Try not to get discouraged if things don’t go back to “normal” right away. In fact, it may be a good idea to work on finding a new normal—one that works for you and your children from here on out. Remember: The more positive experiences your children have after the divorce, the easier it will be on everyone in the long run.
6. Give Yourself Time
You can’t undo years of co-parenting in just a few short weeks or months—it takes time and commitment from both parents to establish boundaries, schedules, and expectations while also being flexible when necessary. If you’re serious about having an effective co-parenting relationship with your former spouse, you must give yourselves enough time to work through the transition.
7. Be Consistent
Your children count on consistency from both of their parents to feel secure and loved throughout this chapter in their lives—no matter how hard it is on you at times. Make sure you’re making wise decisions when it comes to establishing schedules and discipline even when you’re not getting along with one another.
8. Work on Your Finances
It’s not always easy to split up your assets, debts, and expenses down the middle. Work together to minimize any financial strain on both of you during this time by working out a settlement that works for everyone.
9. Establish Rules
While it may be tempting to make rules that only apply to one parent to punish or “get back” at them using your children as pawns, don’t do it—even if they’re willing to play along and agree with everything you say and do (or vice versa). Your kids will end up suffering in the long run if you aren’t fair and consistent when it comes to setting rules, expectations, and consequences.
10. Remember That Your Kids Are Listening
Be mindful of your words and actions around your kids because everything you say or do can have an impact on them. If you need assistance, support, or counseling before, during, or even after the divorce process, don’t be afraid to reach out for a helping hand, whether it’s from family, friends, or professionals who specialize in divorce recovery.
When couples divorce, the impact can be hard on the kids. But parents can take steps to ease the transition with these tips.