It is frequently a challenge to co-parent after the conclusion of a divorce proceeding. After all, divorcing parents have often just concluded divorce litigation – replete with allegations of wrong doing – and frequently with difficult financial arguments.
The focus of this article is the children. While frustration, anger, and hurt feelings are often the result of the divorce litigation, the goal is to shield the children from that litigation and minimize the children's suffering.
The following are a few tips that divorcing parents should keep in mind:
1. Recognize that the children will feel confused, guilty, upset, and abandoned as a result of the divorce. Make sure that your children know that these feelings are not unusual and that the parents will always be their parents.
2. Make sure that you are always available to talk to your children. If you are fortunate that your children want to talk to you about their feelings, grab the opportunity with both hands.
3. Keep your children fully informed about the details of their lives. Make sure they are aware of all details as such details have a huge impact on their lives. Children do not like to be surprised. Absent dangerous circumstances, ensure that your children retain relationships with their families, including grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins.
4. Ensure that your children are not placed in the middle of conflict. Do not ask the children to convey messages or money to the other parent, and do not seek information from the children about the other parent's activities. Do not suggest plans to the children. Make sure that you communicate with the other parent rather than creating the possibility that the plans cannot be fulfilled, and then, the child blames the other parent for their failed plans.
5. Do not speak badly of the other parent or his family or friends in front of the children. Make sure you do not do so by means of body language or facial expressions or other subtle approaches. Your child will likely recognize these non-verbal disparagements of the other parent. Always remember to be courteous. Recognize that life may cause a parent to be a few minutes late and if you do not make the event a big issue, neither will your child.
6. Respect your child's relationship with the other parent. Do not intervene or pass judgment on that relationship. That relationship may be different from yours – neither better nor worse.
Divorce is difficult for children. If you follow the tips above, you may be able to make that difficult time just a little easier for your children – and ultimately, that is the goal.
About the author: Mervyn Braude is a family law attorney at the Phoenix law firm of Jaburg Wilk. He is a certified family law specialist by the State Bar of Arizona. Mervyn is a 2010 Southwest Super Lawyer. Got a legal question for Mervy? Contact him here.
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.