Separations are difficult at any time, but when children are involved, it brings extra challenges. Co-parenting can take some getting used to, but these tips will ensure you both focus on what is most important – your children.
Depending on why you and your ex have separated, keeping things on good terms may not be easy. Children are very aware of what is happening around them and even babies and toddlers can sense when there is a tense atmosphere. However hard it may be, make a conscious effort to remain civil, not only when communicating with your ex but also when talking about them with family, friends, or solicitors.
Having clear agreements is key to providing a safe and consistent world for your child. Make sure that you have an agreed schedule for when you will each have your child and stick to it – routine is particularly important for children so prioritise their needs. Make sure you are both singing from the same hymn sheet with rules and routines. It can be confusing for children if they are allowed to have sweets for breakfast at one house but not at the other, for example. Be consistent. As tempting as it is to be the ’cool parent,’ don’t deviate from any agreements. It will not help your relationship with your ex and sends the message to your child that it is ok to break rules.
Coming to an arrangement where both parties are happy with financial support can take time and is often one of the most stressful parts of a separation. Cordell & Cordell family law solicitors can assist with all aspects of divorce and separation, including child maintenance. There is a useful calculator on their website that can provide you with estimated child maintenance figures based on your own circumstances.
Value Your Child’s Opinion
Whether your child is a tot or a teen, it is likely that your separation is the biggest thing they have gone through in their life. You might be finding it an emotional time yourself, but it is important to take time to listen to your child. It may take time for them to process the changes and for them to accept that the new situation is permanent. Give them plenty of opportunities to talk about their feelings. Watch for any changes in behaviour at home and keep school updated with what is happening so they can offer any necessary support. Your child comes first.
Regularly Review the Situation
Over time, things can change. There may be new partners and stepfamilies on the scene in one or both households. There might be a house move or change in circumstances that necessitates reassessing the situation. What works now might not work in the future, so be sure to regularly review the situation. Remember to be respectful and state exactly what you hope to achieve through making any changes and only act on them once they have been agreed. If tensions arise, consider bringing in a mediator or a friend who can be impartial and act in the best interests of the child. If necessary, ask for advice from your solicitor.
Communication is key to successful co-parenting, so even if you would prefer not to have regular contact with your ex, put your differences to one side. Be polite, be fair, and listen to each other, remembering you may need to compromise to best support your children. You both have a responsibility to provide them with love and stability and this should be your priority regardless of your feelings towards each other.
(This is a guest blog by Jessica Sweet)