When custody is split, one parent normally enjoys visitation. The terms and conditions of visitation are spelled out in a parenting plan, which in some jurisdictions is part of the divorce paperwork. Sometimes the routines of the custodial parent bump against the expectations of the visiting parent, and this causes continuing friction between the two former spouses.
The custodial parent must remember that the visiting parent is still an equal parent. Neither parent should bad mouth the other, particularly in the presence of the children. Former spouses should remember a child will often cling to the idea that somehow his or her mother and father will reunite. Divorced parents must make it clear to a child that this is not going to happen.
Here are ten tips to remember that make custody and visitation easier and more rewarding for both the custodial parent and the visiting parent:
To avoid difficulty in sharing parenthood after a divorce, former spouses should try address situations in business-like behavior. If at any time a conversation becomes a little too personal, it might be wise to continue it on a later date. Both parents should respect and encourage the child’s relationship with the other parent. Parents should schedule regular appointments with the ex-spouse to discuss parenting issues and come to these meetings with an open mind and without assumptions on past behavior. When appointments are scheduled, they should never intentionally be skipped or broken without good reason. Former spouses should attempt to express and/or show appreciation towards one another as even the simplest comment or action can create a stronger and more effective partnership. When possible, parents should avoid unilateral decisions.
After a divorce, parents must make sure that the child never doubts his or her parents’ love. A child is not a piece of property; he or she is a human being with unique feelings, ideas, and desires consistent with that of an individual. Small children need the continuing care and proper guidance of each parent, and they should not be unduly influenced by either parent to view the other parent differently. They have a right to expressed love, friendship, and respect for both parents, and they should not be the subject and/or source of arguments.
Common Questions and Answers
Q. What should both parents remember about custody and visitation?
A. Stable custody and regular visitation mean they have a right to regular contact with both parents and a clear explanation for any change in plans and/or cancellations, so they can enjoy a pleasurable relationship with both parents.
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THE DON’Ts – Good parenting through divorce has a dimension that is negatively defined. Good divorced parents do not speak badly or make accusations about the other parent in front of a child. They do not force a child to choose sides, or use a child as a messenger or go-between, or pump a child for information about the other parent, or argue or discuss child support issues in front of a child. In short, they do not use a child as a pawn to hurt the other parent.
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