How to Help Children Adjust to Time-Sharing Arrangements/Adjustments
Divorce can be tough on kids. A lot of changes will come about in addition to the emotional toll divorce can take. If you have a co-parenting arrangement with your ex, there are a few things to keep in mind in order to help your kids adjust. Below, we offer some tips on how to handle time-sharing arrangements after a split. If you have questions or need assistance with a New Jersey family law matter, call a dedicated New Jersey child custody and parenting time attorney.
Maintain Consistency Where Possible, Be Clear When Not
The more that a child’s life can continue as it was before the divorce, the easier the transition will be. Ideally, the child can stay at the same school and keep going with the same activities as before the divorce. That is not always possible, of course. If things do need to change, be open and up-front with the kids about it.
Moreover, if routines at the two homes are different, make that clear and consistent. You do not have to mimic whatever your co-parent does; it’s perfectly fine to say “When you’re here, this is how we’ll do things.” As long as you are clear, consistent, and understanding, your child will get used to the change.
Set Aside Space for the Kids in Each Home
Each dwelling should feel like a home for the children. They need a separate space for themselves, both to store their belongings and to feel a measure of control. If either parent’s space is too small for the kids to have their own bedroom, think creatively to still set aside space for the child to own. Even a cupboard or closet dedicated to their things, or a side of the living room with their own chair or wall to hang their pictures, can make a difference.
Listen to Your Kids
If your kids are having trouble with the transition, they will tell you. They may not say so directly, or they may not be perfectly able to vocalize their concerns, but ideally you will be able to tell. If they express confusion or concerns, hear them out and try to work through their issues. You might want to talk to your co-parent about your child’s concerns and figure out if alterations to the plan can and should be made to make things easier. If talking to your ex isn’t a realistic option, talking to a counselor or other professional might help.
When you originally set up a parenting time arrangement, you are likely focused on the schedules of the respective parents. Coordinating two different adult work lives in order to agree on a schedule is already challenging enough, especially given the other issues that may be surrounding the divorce. However, especially as children get older, it’s important to remember that they have their own lives, too.
As kids advance in school, they will have after-school projects, sports, hobbies such as musical instruments, and even social engagements. Those activities may conflict with your parenting time schedule. It’s important to remember that the parenting time arrangement is meant to work for the family, not against it. If a child needs an extra day or weekend at one parent’s house because they have a sporting event, parents should do their best to be accommodating. This will help kids feel less like they are living two half-lives instead of one doubly-enriched life.
Considered Advice and Effective Representation for Your New Jersey Custody Matter
If you need seasoned legal help with child custody, child visitation, property division, premarital agreements, child support, or other family law matters in New Jersey, contact the Union offices of family law attorney John B. D’Alessandro at 908-964-0102.