Divorce can be difficult for the entire family. But custody and visitation issues may be more difficult after the divorce is final and everyone must deal with the changes in their lives. Good communication, establishing routines and other steps can help everyone, especially the children, adapt to a new life.
Pickups and returns
Setting a consistent pickup and return time for visitation and other time spent with the parents establishes continuity for children and allows them to know what to expect. When a parent cannot make the visit or pickup because of something unanticipated, they should tell the children and other parent as soon as possible.
A daycare, school, grandparent’s house, afterschool activity or other neutral location may be preferred for pickups and returns. This reduces the possibility that the children become involved in their parent’s disagreements and they can avoid saying goodbye when they leave one parent to go with another.
Addressing children’s stress
Frequently, children feel guilty when they leave a parent to visit or spend time time with the other parent. Repeated separations and reunions can be difficult.
Children should be encouraged to share their feelings. Parents must assure them that they can love and enjoy spending time with both parents.
Visits are not restricted to special and fun events and out-of-the normal activities. Routine and structure are important. Setting expectations for visits helps makes the children’s transition easier.
A parent should not use their children to relay messages to their divorced spouse. Children cannot be used as spies to relay information about their parents.
Parents need to know and be interested and care about their children’s friends. They should allow friends to join family activities and come over to their home.
Both parents should be actively involved in their children’s lives. Children must have regular contact with their nonresidential parent who should also attend school conferences, athletic events, and other school activities.
An attorney can help pursue a fair and reasonable custody order that is in the children’s best interest. They may also help assure that it is enforceable.