Having a good relationship with a former spouse can be difficult after a divorce. However, when children are involved, it is important for the divorced parents to maintain a healthy relationship.
Remember: although you are divorced, you and your former spouse will still be co-parenting your children. This means you both will continue to make decisions about the care of your kids – where they go to school, where they live, where they will go to college … and much more.
Here are some guidelines to help navigate the co-parenting process after a divorce. By following these tips, you will make the overall transition smoother for you and your children.
Tip #1: Establish Clear Communication
Be open and honest with your former spouse. Establish a clear line of communication that permits both of you to stay informed about the children’s needs, activities, and life changes.
The following are some ways to improve communication with your former spouse.
- Agree on a preferred method of communication (i.e., phone calls, text messages, or emails).
- Set a regular schedule to discuss the children’s needs (and wants), and to talk about what is happening in their lives.
- Keep conversations focused on your children and avoid discussing personal issues. Keep your tone respectful.
- Share information about the children’s schedules, health, and any concerns you may have.
Tip #2: Create A Co-Parenting Plan
It is crucial to devise a co-parenting plan. A co-parenting plan outlines the expectations and responsibilities of each parent. It should be created together with your former spouse and be put in writing.
A co-parenting plan will help reduce conflicts. It will include details such as:
- custody arrangements and visitation schedules.
- the process for making decisions about the children.
- arrangements for visitation exchanges/drop-offs, as well as rides to after-school events and special occasions, etc.
For assistance in developing a co-parenting plan, the Michigan Parenting Time Guideline is a helpful resource.
Tip #3: Prioritize The Children
Always put the children’s needs first. Yes, this can be challenging at times, but it is critical to your children’s emotional and mental well-being.
You can prioritize your children’s needs in the following ways.
- Support their relationship with the other parent.
- Be flexible with schedules.
- Talk with them. Listen to their concerns and address them as soon as possible.
- When appropriate, include them in the decision-making process.
- Make decisions that are in their best interests.
Tip #4: Take Care Of Yourself
Your own health is of the utmost importance in order for you to be the best parent you can be. With this in mind, seek professional support when it is needed. This may include counseling for yourself and/or your children, legal assistance, or a support group.
Co-parenting after divorce can be challenging and stressful. It is important to prioritize your own mental, emotional, and physical health. Self-care includes:
- exercising regularly.
- eating healthy.
- practicing relaxation techniques (i.e., meditation or yoga).
- making time for hobbies and activities that you enjoy.
If you need assistance with a co-parenting agreement or have other questions relating to a divorce, the experienced Michigan family law attorneys at Thacker Sleight can help. Contact us today.