Divorce is difficult for children, but a good parenting plan can make life after the family breakup easier for everyone.
Here are four tips for making custody and visitation issues less stressful and more workable.
1. Make practical plans
When you establish your visitation schedule, take into consideration your child’s daily agenda. For example, if you plan for young Mike to spend half the week at your house and half the week with the other parent, how will you handle transportation to and from school, to extracurricular activities, and to miscellaneous appointments? Develop a visitation schedule that is the least disruptive to the schedule your child keeps.
2. Create a welcoming home
Assure Mike that he now has two homes in which he is always welcome. Make personal space for him in the new home and add familiar items to make him feel comfortable, such as favorite books or perhaps a basketball net. Let him help pick out new sheets for his bed or a new desk and chair.
3. Stay on the same page
You and the other parent should present a united front. If the other parent says no to a request, uphold the decision when Mike brings the matter to you—and he will. On the other hand, do not deny him privileges that the other parent allows.
4. Stick to the agreement
Once you and your ex-spouse create your parenting plan, stick to it. Never disappoint your child by forgetting that he is to spend the weekend or a school holiday with you. Always strive to be on time to pick him up or deliver him to the other parent. Sticking to the terms of your custody agreement is a big first step in helping Mike adjust to the divorce and deal with as little stress and uncertainty as possible.
In the state of California, divorcing parents must participate in child custody mediation. This will probably be a new experience for you, but keep in mind that you can rely on professional guidance to help you prepare. It is all about making parenting decisions that are in the best interests of your child.