• The Parenting Network

Promote Healthy Co-Parenting after Divorce with Positive Child Custody Agreement Provisions

Updated: Mar 3, 2019

Parenting POV welcomes guest blogger, Christal Stephens, to share excellent advice for those that are co-parenting. The Parenting Network offers “Cooperative Co-Parenting,” a three hour class that meets the requirement for divorcing couples with minor children in Milwaukee County. Learn more.

Divorce can be a stressful, emotional time for everyone involved. The adults need to make decisions regarding the division of property and assets, financial support, and most importantly, the custody and care of their children. 

Creating a child custody agreement is arguably the most significant aspect of the dissolution process. Unfortunately, parents may become so overwhelmed by their own feelings that they overlook the value of a good parenting plan. They may create subpar agreements or be unable to reach an agreement at all, thus the onset of a custody “battle.” Parents should put their personal feelings aside and work together to create a comprehensive and effective parenting plan for their children.

Children face emotional duress and are affected by the pressure of divorce. They may blame themselves for the breakup. They may feel as if they are losing a parent or as if they will have to choose between them. They may experience grief or depression. Some children act out in reaction to the divorce. Other children may not show any outward signs of distress. 

Regardless, divorcing parents should recognize that they are not the only ones being hurt by the divorce. They should consider what their children are going through and take extra measures to safeguard the mental and emotional well-being of their kids. Parents should keep in mind that their words and actions can have a tremendous impact on their children and work to prevent inadvertent mental and verbal abuse.

If you are going through a divorce or custody process, here are some things you can do to help your child during this transition:

- Create a child visitation schedule that is in the child’s best interests. Your custody case doesn’t need to be a battle. Work with the other parent to create a schedule that gives your child plenty of time with each of you. If you try to keep you child away from the other parent in retaliation, your child is the one who suffers the most.

- Allow open communication between the child and your ex. Your child should be permitted to contact the other parent in a reasonable manner.  You should never withhold methods of communication as a means to punish your child or the other parent. If you were still married, your child would be allowed to speak with the other parent whenever he wanted to.  Living apart should not make a difference on this aspect of their relationship.

- Refrain from make any disparaging remarks about the other parent. You should never say anything negative about your ex to your child. Be mindful that your child will more than likely be able to hear your conversations with others. Be respectful of the fact that your ex is just as important to your child as you are.Reassure your child with positive commentary. Make sure your child knows that the divorce is not her fault and that BOTH parents still love her and will always love her. Help your child understand that you and the other parent will continue to be her parents even though you don’t live together.

- Do not complain to the child about financial matters or other adult topics. You child does not need to feel burdened with the fact that money may be tight or the other parent has missed a child support payment. You should never use your child as a means to communicate about money with the other parent.

- Never compare your child to the other parent in a negative manner. “You’re just like your father!” should only be said in situations that reflect positive traits. Comparing your son’s amazing athletic ability to that of his father is fantastic. Negatively comparing him to his father, the man you no longer want to live with and no longer love, can be devastating to a child.

All of these points may be included as provisions in your parenting plan. Co-parenting requires patience and practice. You should make a conscious effort to nurture and protect your child and request the other parent to do the same.

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