Divorce is tough enough at the best of times. But when there are children involved, it gets even more complicated. If your children are under the age of 18, you will have to come to a custody arrangement with your ex-spouse, and this isn’t always as simple as it sounds.
Every step of the way, you have to consider what is best for the kids, and sometimes you will disagree on what that is. When this happens, you’ll have to attend mediation to reach an agreement.
The simplest decisions suddenly become more difficult. And you will no longer be able to act without input from the other parent. Making the transition to co-parenting is certainly difficult, and it helps if you can keep the divorce as amicable as possible. Here are a few things no one ever tells you about divorce with kids in the picture.
Mum getting custody isn’t guaranteed
Once upon a time, it was assumed that the children would live with their mother and the father would see them every other weekend. Today, it’s far more common for 50% custody arrangements to be granted, so don’t assume this has already been decided for you. If you aren’t happy with your current position, a child arrangements programme may help you to reach a more satisfactory agreement.
Your childcare arrangement isn’t final
Many couples find that the initial childcare arrangement they agree to is just the starting point to figure out what works best for everyone. Either parent can apply to the courts for adjustments to the childcare arrangement at any point. You might also get the courts involved to decide other key factors in a child’s life, such as where they go to school.
Your friends may change
It’s common for couple friends to pick a side in a divorce. Rather than dwelling on these losses, it’s better to think about all the new people you’ll have the pleasure of meeting. Finding a group of single mum friends can save your sanity and avoid you having to feel like the odd one out at couples dinner parties.
You’ll quickly develop a system
One parent typically takes the lead on keeping their children organised. They will know when they need to go to the dentist, when they have an important test, when homework is due and so much more. As you start to get to grips with co-parenting, you might find that some things fall between the cracks. After a while, you’ll develop a system for keeping everything organised.
Your “me time” should be protected
One of the perks of getting divorced is that your partner will be taking care of the children some of the time. This is a rare window of opportunity that many married couples don’t get to enjoy. Make the most of your “me time” and don’t feel guilty about getting out there and reclaiming your life. It might feel odd to not have your kids there in the beginning, but you should eventually learn how to put this time to good use.
Your kids need to be able to talk about it
While kids might act out in the beginning, they will eventually settle down and learn to adapt to the new rhythm of life. The only thing they need during the transition period is to know they are loved and to know they can talk about the divorce at any time. It might be difficult at first, but talking it through with your kids may help them to process the information and let go of the idea that their parents might get back together.
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