Guidelines to Dealing with Children During Your Divorce
Divorce is not just stressful on the parents, but can also create a great deal of uncertainty and confusion in your children. The behavior of parents before and after divorce has a critical impact on the emotional adjustment of their children. The following guidelines should be helpful:
- Put your children's welfare first. Never use your children as a weapon against your spouse.
- Be sure your children have ample and meaningful time with the other parent. Kids need this.
- Don't introduce your children to your new romantic interest until they have adjusted to your separation and your new relationship is stable.
- Don't ever bring your children to court or your lawyer's office.
- Adhere to your parenting schedule. Give the other parent and your children as much notice as you can when you will not be able to keep to the schedule. Be considerate.
- Be flexible – you may both need to adjust the schedule from time to time. This is normal. Flexibility by both parents is in the best interests of your children.
- Do not use your children as spies to report to you about the other parent.
- Try to agree on decisions about the children, especially matters of discipline so that one parent is not undermining the other parent's efforts.
- Avoid arguments or confrontations while picking up or dropping off the children.
- Don't listen in on your children's phone calls with the other parent.
- Do not criticize the other parent in front of your children. The children need to respect both parents.
- Do not use the children as couriers to deliver messages, money or information.
- Maintain your composure. Try to keep a sense of humor and remember that your children's behavior is greatly impacted by your attitude and conduct.
- Assure your children they are not to blame for the divorce, and remind them that they are not being rejected or abandoned by either parent.
- Being a perfect parent is an impossible task – for both of you. When you make a mistake, acknowledge it and try to do better next time. The only thing your ex will never argue with you about is when you say "Sorry."
About the author: Laurence Hirsch is a family law attorney at the Phoenix law firm of Jaburg Wilk. Larry was selected as a 2012, 2013 and 2014 Southwest Super Lawyer Rising Star and also chosen by the Phoenix Business Journal for induction into the 2011class of "Forty Under 40". He is a member of the State Bar of Arizona in the Family Law and Young Lawyers sections. He was formerly the Vice President of the Maricopa County Bar Association, Family Law Section. More recently, He has expertise representing high net worth individuals who have closely held businesses in their marital community.
This article is not intended to provide legal advice and only relates to Arizona law. It does not consider the scope of laws in states other than Arizona. Always consult an attorney for legal advice for your particular situation.