Separation is never easy and separating with kids adds another dimension to the process. So many things will change, not just for you, but for your children as well.
Anticipating these changes can help you prepare for a less stressful transition to your new reality. Here are some of the key things you may need to consider when you’re separating with kids.
How Are You Going To Tell The Children?
This is probably the hardest thing you’ll be required to do. Much will depend on the age and maturity of the children but, nevertheless, it is not going to be easy. The best advice anyone can give is to put aside your differences and emotions and break the news to all of them together, in a calm and dignified manner as is possible, reducing the impact for them.
If you have any safety concerns or feel either one of you may be unable to remain calm, arrange for a family counsellor or close relative with whom the children feel comfortable to be present.
Decide with your ex beforehand, how much information to divulge, keeping it age-appropriate, avoiding giving too much information and laying blame on anyone. All they need to know is that you are no longer happy living together.
There may be tears, anxiety, disappointment and other emotions. But on the other hand, the children may have already sensed that things have not been going so well between the two of you, and it may not come as a total surprise. In some cases, where there has been serious conflict, the news can even be met with a sense of relief.
What Are Their Current & Future Needs?
Children’s future needs are usually of prime concern for divorcing parents, and should be considered and arranged to the finer details, even before breaking the news to them. They would naturally want to know where they will live, with whom, whether they can still attend the same school, continue seeing their friends, how often they will see their other parent, etc.
You need to consider all of these issues and, hopefully, have some agreement with your ex about how to respond to the kids.
What Will Their New Living Arrangements Be?
Commonly, the number one concern for children is their new living arrangements. They may be required to move with one parent to another home, or they may remain in the family home. Once they know what their new living arrangements are and who will take them to school, the other issues will fall into place and they begin the process of adjusting to their new lives.
How Will Their Routines Change?
In most divorce cases, it’s impossible for all of the children’s routines to remain unchanged, or to have the exact set of rules in both households. But, by trying to keep the changes to a minimum and applying the same disciplinary rules they are accustomed to, will certainly make the adjustments to their new lifestyles a lot easier for them.
It’s best if both homes can retain a daily routine that is as close to the one they were used to in the past, and continue doing the same or similar things. Unless they will have to move to another city, allow the children to continue their schooling, extra activities and socialising with their friends.
And most importantly, point out clearly the things that will remain the same.
Do You Need To Update Your Will?
Most married or de facto couples, list their partners as beneficiaries and sometimes as executor to their estates. They often give them power of attorney for all matters including the power to make medical directives on their behalf.
Updating your will and insurance policies is of great importance when separating. Your ex may otherwise end up inheriting your entire estate in the untimely event of your death.
How Will You Co-Parent Successfully?
The more amicable your relationship is with your ex after the divorce, the easier it will be for you both to co-parent successfully. If an amicable relationship is not possible, at least agree with your ex not to argue or badmouth each other in front of the children. Set out ground rules with your ex on how you both need to behave and ensure you both stick to them.
Allow the children to spend as much time as possible with the other parent and agree with your ex not to discuss any financial matters with the children. Do not use your children to relay messages to your ex and never use them to “spy” on your ex either. Doing that only increases their level of stress and making it more difficult for them to adapt to their new lives.
Remember that whatever you do, do it only if it’s in the best interests of you children. This is perhaps the cardinal rule for successful co-parenting.
Make Sure They Know They Can Talk To You Anytime
Make it clear that they can talk to you anytime, ask any question, or make any suggestions to improve their lives. This will make them feel important, loved, and reassure them that you’re still one family despite living in separate homes.
By spending as much time with them as possible and remaining close, will also help you to deal with your own grief and help you get through this difficult and most stressful period in your life.
For help moving on quickly and amicably when separating with kids, talk to Ian Shann today. As an accredited family mediator in Perth, he can help you come to a mutual agreement with your ex on how to settle your matters without leaving those decisions to the Family Court system.
Call Ian now for a confidential discussion on 0418 928 448.