For those parents who are considering that your romantic relationship may be over with their partner and are considering separation post-separation parenting counselling may help you.
This can be an especially tricky phase for a family. It is useful to make sure that you are working together as parents for the best interest of the children.
Developing a post separation parenting plan
It can be really helpful to develop a plan before you actually separate of how you want to handle your parenting responsibilities moving forward. The thing is just because you choose to no longer use the title partner you will still be in a relationship with each other. The title simply changes to co-parents. You will still need to cooperate, communicate, and be able to collaborate as co-parents.
I’ve heard many parents who say I thought I wouldn’t have to deal with my child’s other parent after we divorced. They are in my office because they realized later that it doesn’t work that way.
It is helpful if you think about having at least the skeleton of a relationship if not a fully developed one for a couple decades.
You will both want to be at key events e.g. birthdays, weddings, graduations, funerals, major holidays, births etc. and need to work out a way for this to be cordial.
According to family law parents continue to have the responsibility to care for their children whether or not they are a couple.
There are a lot of major decisions that need to be made while bringing up a little one. You may have no trouble at all with making plans involving the amount and type of religious education your children receive for example. However, you may be at odds on extracurricular activities, schooling, and driving, dating, use of social media or funding the child’s activities.
It has been shown over and over that children who are not exposed to ongoing parental conflict have the best outcomes. Their mental health, future relationships, school performances are better than those who experience parental conflict. This is why it is good if parents can work out their decisions on rules, discipline, money etc. without the children getting stuck in the middle.
Little people are amazingly perceptive and are watching how two people they love deeply treat them and each other through this process. This is a great opportunity for parents to be role models of how to handle conflict resolution, communication etc. They will learn as much if not more from what they observe you do, as what you tell them they ought to do.
How I work with separated parents
When working with separated parents I may or may not see them together. Depending on the level of conflict it might be more harmful to be in the same room than to have separate sessions.
If couples want help making plans on how to separate with the least possible negative impact on the kids those couples would be seen together.
For those that are already separated & experiencing trouble making parenting plans or sticking to the ones they already created we may meet separately.
It is sometimes surprising how much change can really happen if both parties enter the process willing to roll up their sleeves and do some work on making the arrangements better.
It is also important to work at separating out the lingering partner issues from the parenting issues. Some people have a hard time with this especially at first if they are feeling really hurt about the way the relationship ended.
Assistance with mediators and solicitors
If you are needing help with changing parenting orders or formal changes to your parenting arrangements I can help connect you with mediators or solicitors. This may be one part of the process.
As best you can it is in the best interest of you and your children if you can work out the majority of your arrangements without deferring to a judge.
There are some really good family court judges out there but they may make a decision about your child’s care that may work on paper but not for your lives. Regardless, how experienced they may be in the field or how many cases they have been involved with they are not experts on your family.
As each family is different there may be some unique thing about your work schedule, a relative who has special health needs or maybe someone who has been a key part of the child’s life for years but isn’t a relative so may have no legal right to see them etc.
It is good if you can tailor fit your arrangements to what works for your family not defer to the judge for an off the rack plan. Even if you can only agree on 8 of 10 topics for example you will still have a more customized plan than if you don’t try at all.
Ongoing parenting plans
There may be times when it is necessary to make changes to your parenting plans. These pivot points can be really stressful. Some of the natural things that happen to all of us do result in changes to the parenting arrangements. If one person has to move for work, has a change in their financial status, re-partners or has a new baby. These may be all really great things however, they will need to be approached in a very strategic way when introducing these changes to the children or possibly how you discuss with your ex partner.