When talking about the aftermath of divorce especially concerning children, parents are often advised on what not to do instead of what to do. Indeed, instructions are typically along the lines of “Don’t badmouth your ex in front of the kids” or “Don’t put the kids in the middle of your conflict”.
Though these are essential to remember, they really don’t address what you should actually do. Furthermore, this kind of advice doesn’t offer concrete examples of how parents can help their children cope after the divorce.
Co-parenting: What is it?
Unless the family is involved in serious issues such as domestic violence, the parents can opt for the co-parenting route. Co-parenting is the most simple and best way to ensure that both parties can still actively participate in their children’s lives. Seeing a friendly or at least civil relationship between parents, though divorced, can improve the mental and emotional health of the children as well.
Of course, going through this process is easier said than done. After all, you’re going to have to coordinate with your former spouse with regards to your children’s schedules and other minutiae. You will see each other at drop-off times and hear about your children’s day at your ex partner’s house. Maintaining a balance and managing a healthy relationship through this phase can be difficult but it’s something that you have to work through for your children’s sake.
How can you make co-parenting work?
Though there is no magic formula for a positive co-parenting experience, there are still some principles that separated or divorced parents can follow to protect their children’s interest. The children are, after all, the most important factor in this equation. Their safety, security and stability should come above everything else. Indeed, the children have the right to have meaningful relationships with both their parents is protected under the Australian family law; this means the court is bound to give greater consideration into preserving the child’s well-being.
Here are several guiding principles that can help in making co-parenting work for you.
Support your children emotionally.
Spending time with your children is absolutely necessary: it helps in establishing a routine, something that your children need especially when the home dynamic changes. However, merely being there for them physically is not enough. You have to be emotionally present and engaged. Take the time to ask about their day and truly listen. Get involved in your their lives. You have to make them realise that they have not been abandoned and that you will be there for them.
Provide children with answers.
Divorce is a confusing time for children. Their parents, who seemed to be unshakeable pillars, are suddenly not together. Everything they know to be unbreakable is suddenly in flux. They must have questions to make sense of these changes, and you should provide them with answers in the kindest and most honest way possible. Understanding what a divorce actually is, is not a one-time process for children, especially as they deal with a tonne of emotions as well, such as rage, grief or even guilt.
Be prepared to talk to them about the divorce. If possible, do this together with their other parent. They have to understand that though you and your former spouse are not living together anymore, both of you are still committed to being there for them and putting them first.
Coordinate with the other parent as much as possible.
Open communication is necessary for positive co-parenting. You have to discuss your children’s needs and how to meet those needs. Some decisions that must be made by the both of you are those regarding your children’s education, medical needs and the cost of separate households. Regular phone calls or emails may suffice for this. However, if you think that it is not ideal to discuss these personally, it would be helpful to consider coming up with a parenting plan where co-parenting arrangements are laid out in detail. You can also call up a third party to help you make the communication process better.
Finding a family law attorney in Cairns
Here at Marino Lawyers, we can help you navigate the divorce process smoothly. Consult with our family lawyers in Cairns to discuss your possible next steps. For enquiries, feel free to call (07) 4081 6700.