For parents, divorce isn’t usually the end of a relationship with your partner. Unless courts deem one parent unfit, it’s ideal for the child’s development to have both parents in his or her life. Yet, it can be challenging for divorced parents to communicate and get along. Emotions can run high. Still, everyone involved must follow the legal guidelines set out by the custody agreement. Child custody visitations are a big component of a successful parenting plan.
Develop an Amenable Parenting Plan
When you divorce, create a parenting and custody plan that works for everyone. It’s typical to make changes as kids grow up and life changes, but the plan provides your starting point. If everyone agrees to the plan, they can more easily accept the occasional late or early pick-up or drop-off. More consequential or consistent differences should be re-addressed in court, however. The more thoroughly you develop your plan, the fewer headaches will occur in the future.
As children get older, schedules can become more hectic than merely daycare or school hours. Sports leagues, dance classes, extracurricular events, after-school jobs, and gatherings with friends become part of it. Even if it seems unpredictable right now, it’s important to discuss how to address future needs.
Determine Pick-up and Drop-off Locations
Some couples, in spite of their differences, will meet at each other’s homes for pick-up or drop-off. It’s convenient, and sometimes a good way to develop better parenting communications with your ex. But if there’s residual animosity you may prefer to conduct exchanges in a public place. You want to keep these moments as stress-free as possible for your child(ren).
Set Ground Rules for Successful Child Custody Visitations
Establish the following rules, which benefit your child’s well-being as you grow accustomed to new dynamics: Don’t bad mouth the other parent in front of the children.
Do not discuss serious or sensitive subjects in front of the children.
Try to adhere the schedule, while also being open to realistic or unexpected changes.
Give as much advance notice as possible if there are going to be delays, changes, or cancellations.
Set common house rules for each residence, including who is and isn’t allowed around the kids.
Never do a custody exchange if either adult is intoxicated or under the influence of drugs.
Always share who’s watching or assisting you with the kids.
Moving Out of State
If you or your co-parent are considering relocation, research how moving to a new state may affect child custody and visitation. There are certain procedures to follow, even if you’re only moving from Cincinnati, Ohio to Northern Kentucky. In addition to the legal, technical protocols, discuss what this may mean for children who are old enough to understand. Listen to their questions and concerns, so that they can feel involved with the logistics of spending time together.
Respect Dating and Re-Marriage
Some couples take it in stride when one of them starts dating or remarries, while others struggle. It’s important to distinguish your feelings about a new person from how the situation affects your children. Will he/she accept your child, and try to form a genuine relationship? How will disciplinary measures be handled? What if there is tension and your child doesn’t like this new adult figure? Open communication, even if it wasn’t a strength during your marriage, is critical when it comes to your children post-breakup.
If your or your ex’s new partner/spouse also has children, everyone may not get along. Personalities clash, jealousies or insecurities arise, and emotions run high. Your children need to know that your feelings for them haven’t changed, and they’re not being overshadowed by new additions.
Spend alone time with your children, to reinforce their sense of value and love. Do not play favorites, with your children, or your new charges. Have regularly scheduled family meetings to make sure all needs are being addressed.
As emotionally upheaving as divorce is, the new norm does eventually become routine. Continue to focus on quality time and making memories, and successful child custody visitations will ensue.