The stress and anxiety of separation and divorce affects not just the divorcing couple, but also their children. Parents who want to help their children during this difficult time often use the following do’s and don’ts of child visitation whenever they have to interact with other parent in matters related to the couple’s children so that their relationship with their children remains positive.
* Do make sure children are comfortable at both parents’ homes. Children should feel welcome and comfortable in either of their parent’s homes. This means having their own bedroom in each home whenever possible, with their own personal belongings so that they can create their own “space”.
* Do make transitions between homes calm and smooth. For parents, this means not arguing when dropping off or picking up children. If there are issues to be discussed, do so when the children are not around, or through your respective divorce lawyers. Never place children in the centre of conflict.
* Do be consistent in discipline and rules for the children. Both parents need to be on board and to agree upon a set of rules and what type of discipline is appropriate. Doing so helps further reinforce consistency and stability for the children. Different rules at each home leads to confusion with the children as to what is expected of them and creates disputes between parents.
* Do show mutual respect towards your former spouse. Set aside any animosity whenever dropping off or picking up children. Children are perceptive. They will much prefer seeing a positive interaction between their parents.
* Do be on time when dropping off or picking up the children. Part of mutual respect is being on time. If you will be late, call the other parent and let them know why. Also, being late gives a negative impression on the children. It shows a lack of interest.
* Do share changes in your live that could affect your children. Changes like a new job, romantic interest and others should be shared with your ex-spouse when they will affect the children. It is especially important to discuss the introduction of a new partner with your former spouse whenever possible before introducing him/her to the children.
* Do try to be flexible with visitation schedules. Make sure to share any changes that could impact regular-scheduled visitations with each other. Attempt to work out acceptable variations to schedules, so that both parents still get the same amount of time with the children and the children do not lose out on spending time with a parent.
* Don’t vent to your children about your issues with your ex-spouse. Doing so could alter how your children view the other parent. At the very least, it will make them feel uncomfortable. They may also inform the other parent of this behaviour, which could be used by them to request a change in custody or visitation.
* Don’t deny the other parent access. Preventing access just further complicates the divorce and increases stress on the children. Even though you may not like your children spending time with the other parent, legally you cannot prevent access. If there is an order or agreement that sets out access times, breaching that order or agreement could put you in serious trouble in the eyes of the court.
* Don’t hurt your children by not showing up for scheduled visits. Not seeing your children when you should only hurts them, not your ex-spouse. Plus, if you miss too many visits, your ex-spouse could request a modification to access and/or custody to reduce your access time.
* Don’t let your children’s activities be an excuse for having to miss visitations. You are fully capable of transporting your children to and from sports and other activates in which they participate. Plus, sharing these experiences with your children is something they will appreciate and enjoy.
By following these do’s and don’ts, even when you divorce is not amicable, you can at least make the process less stressful for your children.
For further questions about child access, visitation schedules, modifications to existing orders, or other divorce and family law matters, please feel free to contact Davies Law Firm at (613) 688-0462 today!