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Newly Divorced? Helpful Suggestions to Make Parenting Less Stressful

Author: Alexis Connors

Divorce is a stressful time for everyone involved. For children, the sudden dissolution of the family unit can be enormously confusing. Anxiety, fear and self-doubt all may present themselves individually or at once. Parents face a new life without their former spouse and co-parent. Uncertainty may seemingly cloud every aspect of a divorced family’s new life. 

The period immediately after divorce need not be painful, intimidating or even unpleasant. With some forethought and planning – and a little understanding – newly divorced parents can quickly forge a life that allows for personal growth for the entire family.

Put the Effort into Creating a Thorough Parenting Plan

Part of the divorce process will include drafting a parenting plan. This plan is part of the divorce decree and helps parents think through all the different aspects of co-parenting with the ex-spouse – most importantly physical and legal custody as well as child support. It can include details on how parents will manage everyday life, including the following:

Divorcing parents can either provide the court with a jointly agreed upon plan or submit individual plans. Ultimately, the court determines the final version.  

Giving as much forethought to the plan as possible saves time and frustration down the road. Consider your job status, relationship goals, financial obligations and your own desires for your new life as a single parent. We also recommend that after the parenting plan is issued, parents become thoroughly familiar with its contents so there’s no confusion or question about what’s been agreed to. 

Remember, the plan gives both parents a framework for custody that works in the children’s best interest. A well-drafted plan should give parents all the tools and information necessary to solve potential issues themselves. Your attorney will walk you through the process of creating a thorough parenting plan.

Set Aside Your Differences and Work as a Team

Divorce does not absolve one parent of responsibility or place it all on the shoulders of the other. You and your ex-spouse will continue to be parents of your children. A civil relationship that recognizes the importance of both parents in the children’s upbringing will go a long way in normalizing what is a traumatic period for the children. Adhering to the parenting plan and keeping your grievances with the other parent between the two of you will establish a routine and hopefully create a sense of calm for your children. When issues do arise, take written notes on your conversations, consult the parenting plan and work things out with your ex in private. A willingness to compromise, respect for your co-parent’s time and a healthy dose of grace will go a long way toward easing whatever conflict arises. Your kids will notice, too!

Focus on the Kids

As adults, we’ve developed coping mechanisms to help us manage crises and change. Children, however, probably have not developed the same skill sets. In divorce, they need to be reassured that they’ve not been abandoned or that the split is not somehow their fault. Listen to their fears and anxieties.

Divorce can provide an opportunity for you and your children to create new traditions, increase quality time together and communicate more openly. Children need reassurance and routine. Be careful to maintain their communities of support – friends, relatives, school and extracurricular organizations. Kids will continue to be kids; help them enjoy their youth without the burdens of adulthood. 

Take Care of Yourself

Single parenting can be challenging, both mentally and physically. We like to remind our clients to look after their own needs as well as their children’s. Therapy for parents and children is always a good idea. For kids, it can provide an outside source of support and help frame their upside-down world with logic and insight. Therapy is a great way for adults to express their fears and frustrations, as well as find opportunities to self-correct. While it may be difficult to find the time, keep yourself in shape and avoid destructive consumption of food and/or alcohol. Again, use your newfound domestic status as a teaching and growth opportunity for yourself and your children.

Be Open to Change 

Your parenting situation will undoubtedly change – life happens, right? Your child will grow up, and their interests will develop and deepen. Your own professional and personal lives will evolve as well. Don’t be afraid to revisit the parenting plan. If there are changes that you and your former spouse can agree on, put them in writing and move on. If there is an impasse, you will need to consult with your family law attorney, who can help you decide the next steps. 

Regardless, helping your child successfully navigate change is perhaps one of the greatest life lessons you can teach them! Keep this in mind as you grow into your status as a newly divorced parent.

Alexis Connors handles all types of family law matters with a focus on complex divorce litigation. She helps clients navigate the difficult divorce process by combining personalized service and a passion for delivering the best outcomes.

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About The Author

Alexis Connors Associate

Alexis Connors handles all types of family law matters, with a focus on complex divorce litigation, child custody and support disputes, and paternity and legitimation. Alexis helps clients navigate the difficult divorce process with a combination of personalized service and a passion for delivering the best outcomes for her clients. She advocates for her clients Read More

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