We Decided to Separate, What About the Children?
You and your partner have decided to separate. You feel that is the best route for the two of you as adults, and in the long term, it will be best for the children. Wait, what about the children now though?
This is likely the most uncertain time your children have faced in their lives. The stability of a unified family unit, no matter what was going on, is now being disrupted. Your children look to you for guidance and support, in all aspects of their lives. Parents are their cornerstone and now that is being ripped in two and the uncertainty of what’s to come, and what their family structure will look like going forward, can be daunting and overwhelming. The children may be feeling that these fundamental changes are not something that they had asked for and may feel that this looming divorce was somehow their fault.
Children need to be assured their lives will remain as stable as possible, just with separate homes and with two parents who love them very much. The most important things to think about when making parenting decisions are:
- Consistency in routines such as after-school care, homework time, sports and extracurricular activities, and other commitments of the children.
- Stability in housing on either a short-term or long-term basis.
- Providing children with their own “space” and wardrobe at their new home(s) so they feel comfortable and not a “guest” having to shuttle a carry-on back and forth.
- Friend bases should be accessible to children in both homes.
- Communication with the non-time-sharing parent so that they don’t feel “cut off”.
It is important to keep age-appropriate communication lines open with your children about the situation. But there are “no-no” topics in which children should be shielded at all costs. Those include:
- That court events are happening and when they are happening.
- Motions filed or relief sought from the court.
- What is happening and discussed in court.
- What the other parent said in court.
- What the judge said in court.
- Who has or does not have a family law attorney
- What is privately discussed between you, the client, and the attorney
- Who has to pay what for the children
- Who owes money to whom
- Child support
It is important to keep open, civil, and cordial communication with the other parent. Your children need to come first. There was a time in your relationship when the two of you had feelings strong enough to want to create your child(ren). Now, your job is to guide them through this life-changing transition. Remember, you did not agree upon EVERY decision when you were an intact family, so try to keep reasonable expectations about how you will navigate difficult decisions post separation.
Our family law attorneys have decades of experience in assisting families facing all types of issues through the creating of a Parenting Plan or, if necessary, presenting the necessary evidence to a Judge to determine the best interests of your family’s needs.
DISCLAIMER: This article is provided as a courtesy and is intended for the general information of the matters discussed above and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Neither Kelley Kronenberg, nor its individual attorneys or staff, are responsible for errors, omissions and/or typographical errors – always seek competent legal counsel.