Hello. My name is Daphna Schwartz and I am a lawyer at the Feldstein Family Law Group.
While having a relationship with both parents is highly beneficial for most children, setting up visitations can be trying for former spouses and partners who do not get along. Parents can ease their children’s adjustment to life following separation by making visitation a painless and natural part of their routine.
Today, I will be discussing three practical and crucial matters parents should consider to help relieve the burden of stress on children.
Establish a Routine for Picking Up and Dropping off Kids
Access exchanges are commonly where problems between parents occur as the former spouses or partners may need to interact. Developing an agreed upon set of guidelines that govern and establish pick-up/drop-off routines can make the brief contact easier and avoid unnecessary conflict. This allows parents to know what they can expect from each other and what is expected of them.
In your parenting plan you should include arrangements detailing:
- A pick-up and drop-off schedule and locations
- Where a parent should wait for the child (ren), such as outside or in the other’s home or in the car.
- A notification procedure for when a parent is late
- An emergency protocol for when a parent is unable to pick-up or drop-off; and
- A procedure for when a child does not want to go for visitation
Be prepared to follow the guidelines once they are in place. Make routine exchanges less stressful for everyone by being punctual and respecting the rules. Taking care to have children ready to go demonstrates your care and acceptance of their love for their other parent, which can ease their fears of being forced to choose between the two of you.
When is it appropriate for children to contact their other parent?
A healthy parenting arrangement recognizes that children should be free to contact the other parent when they are apart. Children should not feel as if they must isolate half their lives just because mom or dad dislikes each other. The impact of parental conflict on child is mitigated when the child is secure in the knowledge that they can call, write, Skype, or text either parent as they please.
While unrestricted contact can be a good thing, parents may be concerned that their former spouse is unfairly monopolizing a child’s time. To prevent conflicts arising in such situations, parents can agree upon rules relating to reasonable times in each household for when communication between the child and other parent can occur. Setting out a schedule for regular contact helps normalize the two-home living arrangement and encourages the child to feel comfortable in both households.
How will parents communicate with each other?
Parents need an agreed upon means of communication that does not involve the children as messengers. Far too often, children get swept up into parental conflict passing messages back and forth.
Former spouses who cannot communicate face-to-face or over the phone, should utilize electronic forms of communication, such as text or email, which can assist in maintaining a neutral tone. Treat communications as if they were business correspondence and isolate your personal feelings from the matter.
Consider creating a list of agreed upon topics relating to the children’s needs or care that restricts what parents can discuss with each other. Restricting communications to a specific purpose and a small list of topics is an effective way of creating boundaries in the relationship and interactions between the former spouses. Maintaining this boundary will help limit the potential for unnecessary conflict that children are exposed to.
For information regarding parenting plans, or separation agreements which can include some of the points I have discussed today, you can visit our website, or you contact us about your own situation at (905) 581-7222 for a consultation.
Thank you for watching.