Getting divorced can be one of the hardest things you’ll go through in your life, and it’s only more difficult when it’s a divorce with kids. You’re not only considering what’s best for yourself but also how your kids will experience the divorce. When going through a divorce with kids, it’s necessary to work with your ex-spouse as they’re going to be your co-parent for the rest of your life. Even after your kids turn 18, you are still co-parenting together. Read on for three ways to prepare for divorce with kids.
1. Devise a Plan
When going through a divorce with kids, it’s important that you come up with a plan for how you and your ex are going to co-parent. Everything from what will the kids’ schedule look like to where you’re both going to live to what is and isn’t going to change. While you don’t have to have all the answers, it’s important that you think about having some of the answers before you tell your children you’re getting divorced. It’s important for your children to know how much you love them when breaking the news.
They’re going to have questions. The most common is wanting to know where they’re going to live and whether they’re going to have to change schools, move, etc. Having a prepared response before you tell them can be helpful. If you’re unsure how to have that conversation, a therapist is a helpful resource in talking it through and even role-playing how that conversation could go. Ultimately, understand that no matter how much you plan, things are never going to go exactly as you plan and it’s encouraged to be flexible when necessary.
2. Establish Proper Resources
I’ve already mentioned how helpful a therapist can be when divorcing with kids. Having resources for you and your children is important because it becomes increasingly difficult to endure on your own. Resources can range, for example, if your kids have good friends and you’re acquainted with the parents, you may want to let the parents know what’s going on so they could potentially provide additional support. Additionally, having therapists not only for you but also for the kids can be important. Sometimes they’ll need or want to talk to someone that isn’t you or your co-parent.
When you divorce with kids, it is ideal for the children to see their parents get along. A co-parenting course or therapist can help you and your co-parent get on the same page. Many couples getting divorced had issues around parenting while they were married and getting divorced doesn’t make these issues go away. In fact, it can exasperate them. However, we also find that some couples are better co-parents than they ever were spouses. One great resource for a co-parenting class is Kids Turn San Diego which offers classes not only for the parents but also for the children.
Other important resources include books or videos. Having some of these books available can be helpful for kids to understand what’s going on and what they can expect.
3. Try Divorce Mediation
Another ideal way to prepare for divorce with kids is to try out mediation. Mediation allows you and your co-parent to work together and remain amicable through the divorce process. Mediation also revolves around maintaining a happy and healthy environment for you and your children. While litigation can tear families apart and can be stressful, mediation allows you to maintain a relationship that is increasingly important when co-parenting. A mediator, especially one who is skilled in dealing with co-parenting issues will be able to help you and your co-parent reach agreements on everything from scheduling to holidays to just how you’re going to co-parent. I always tell the families I work with that we try and put as much as possible in writing so that there is the least amount of conflict moving forward.
If you’re going through a divorce with kids, West Coast Family Mediation is here to share the experience and resources to guide you through to a positive next chapter. We offer a Free 45-minute consultation for you to get to know us and to give you an opportunity to see if we are the right fit to guide you on this journey ahead.
by: Amanda Singer