Divorce or custody litigation can be an emotionally and mentally challenging time for everyone involved, especially for children. When a marriage breaks down, parents can sometimes become embroiled in a battle over custody and visitation rights, forgetting that their children’s well-being should be the top priority. Here are some tips for putting kids first while going through a divorce or custody action.

  1. Communicate openly and honestly with your children

Children need to understand what is happening and what changes will be taking place. Parents should sit down with their children and explain the situation in an age-appropriate manner. Be honest, but avoid sharing too many details that could be harmful, upsetting, or a source of worry. Reassure them that both parents still love them and that the divorce or custody/visitation changes are not their fault. Point out the silver linings for the children where you can. 

  1. Avoid involving children in adult issues

Litigation can be an incredibly difficult, costly, and emotional process, but children should not be made to bear the brunt of their parents’ issues. Avoid talking to your children about adult issues such as legal battles, financial struggles, or disagreements with your ex-partner. Children should be shielded from these issues as much as possible, and should never feel they must choose sides. Don’t influence the kids’ view of the other parent/party by using labels like “personality disordered,” “toxic,” “unsafe,” “cheater,” “addict,” “narcissist,” and so on if the children can read it (think social media or phone texts), or overhear it (conversations with friends, lawyers, GAL, etc.). 

  1. Focus on co-parenting/parallel parenting

Putting kids first in a divorce battle means putting aside personal differences and focusing on co-parenting. Both parents should work together to make decisions that are in the best interests of their children. This may include creating a parenting plan that outlines custody arrangements, visitation schedules, and other important details. It costs nothing to use a shared calendar like Outlook or iCal. If you can afford it, Our Family Wizard has a lot of nice features for communicating, and planning, and even checks your tone in emails. 

  1. Put your children’s needs first

When making decisions about custody, visitation, or any other aspect of the divorce, always put your children’s needs first. Ask yourself what is best for your children and how you can help them adjust to the changes that are taking place. Be flexible and willing to compromise if it means doing what is best for your children. 

  1. Seek professional help if needed

Divorce can be a difficult and emotional time, and it is not uncommon for parents to struggle with putting their children’s needs first. If you are struggling, seek professional help from a therapist or counselor who can provide guidance and support. 

In conclusion, putting kids first in a divorce battle means prioritizing their well-being and making decisions that are in their best interests. By communicating openly, avoiding involving children in adult issues, focusing on co-parenting, putting your children’s needs first, and seeking professional help when needed, you can help your children adjust to the changes and build a healthy, happy future.

Bridge over the Russian River in Calif. on a rainy day

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