No person is impacted more by your and your spouse's decision to get a divorce than your son or daughter. We may get so wrapped up in what a divorce means for us as adults that it is easy to lose sight of just how much a divorce will change how your child views their world and interacts with you and your spouse.
This can occur even in the middle of a divorce where your children are the main issue being debated back and forth. While you may be most concerned with how frequently you will be able to see them after the divorce, what should also be considered is your child's psyche and their ability to rebuild trust in others and confidence in themselves after your divorce is finalized.
I don't mean to be dramatic with that introductory paragraph. It may be that your child will be relieved that you and your spouse are getting divorced. The home environment may very well have become toxic and unlivable for the most part due to the breakdown in the marital relationship.
Regardless of how your child views the divorce, you and your spouse will need to work together as much as possible to repair and rebuild any broken aspects of your relationship with your child. The best way to do so is through what is commonly called co-parenting.
Co-parenting: a phrase often utilized but underexplained
In the world of divorce and family law co-parenting is one of those universal terms that lawyers and laypeople throw around a lot but never really explain. I'll bet that if you polled a dozen lawyers as they left the courthouse, you would get a dozen responses as to what co-parenting means.
To me, co-parenting refers to a situation where both you and your ex-spouse agree to work together, to communicate, and to mutually take on the responsibilities of parenting your child even though you both no longer live in the same house anymore. This may seem like the last thing you want to think about as you begin to separate your life from theirs, but for your child, this is typically the best arrangement possible.
The State of Texas would agree that this parenting structure is for the best and, as a result, has included these sorts of qualities within its most commonly ordered parenting plan- that of Joint Managing Conservatorship. Joint Managing Conservators share almost equally in the rights and duties of raising their children.
There is a presumption that this is the parenting plan that will work best for your child, and it takes a substantial amount of evidence to overcome that presumption. Extreme situations in which either you or your spouse have engaged in drug or alcohol abuse or have abused one another or your child will almost certainly overcome the presumption in favor of naming you and your spouse joint managing conservators.
Consistency is at the top of the list of reasons why co-parenting is good in the short and long terms.
Children will emulate what they see much more than what they are told from my experiences as a parent; if your child observes you and your ex-spouse working together and acting in concert on critical parenting issues, that will stick with your child as they get older.
Even though deep down you may be very upset at your ex-spouse, it is highly recommended that you put those feelings on the back burner to provide a unified front towards the raising of your child.
In a time where your child's life will be changing dramatically, consistent and reliable expectations need to be set forth that allow your child the opportunity to grow as a person in any new environment they find themselves in but also to provide the sort of protection from worry that can be a side effect of seeing their parents divorce and separate.
If you can provide evidence to your child that their interests come before anything else, it may be that your son or daughter feels more comfortable in their new environments.
Basics of co-parenting
To co-parent effectively, you and your spouse will need to present a united front to your child in terms of discipline. This means that if your ex-wife has barred your son from playing video games for a disciplinary infraction, then you should continue that punishment. This harkens back to our prior section, wherein we discussed the importance of consistency.
Another crucial part of co-parenting well is communicating as best you can with your ex-spouse. Doing so will serve the dual purpose of eliminating as much as possible misinformation and misunderstandings while allowing for you and your ex-spouse to have an opportunity to settle on a mutually arrived at plan of "attack" before speaking with your child individually.
Finally, a rule that your court laid down at the beginning of your divorce case will again be helpful in post-divorce life. Ensuring that neither you nor your family speaks ill of your ex-spouse in front of your children is also crucial. Seeing you say nasty things about your ex-spouse can give the impression to your child that it is ok to disrespect another person.
This is not a lesson you want to teach and will not be productive in raising your child well. The Golden Rule can and should be applied here: treat others and speak about others the way you would want to be treated and talked about.
Questions about co-parenting after a divorce? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC
If you are considering a divorce, don't hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, today. A licensed family law attorney can answer your questions six days a week. We represent clients across southeast Texas and would be honored to speak to you about our services.
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Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Kingwood Divorce Lawyer
The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding divorce, it's essential to speak with a Kingwood, TX Divorce Lawyer right away to protect your rights.
A divorce lawyer in Kingwood, TX, is skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, handles Divorce cases in Kingwood, Texas, Cypress, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, Houston, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County, and Waller County.