Once your divorce is final, you, your co-parent and your children will still be a family. Your family will, however, have a different structure than in the past. How smoothly you and your former spouse are able to accomplish this restructuring will likely have a significant impact on how well your kids adjust to their “new normal.”
One of the biggest changes, of course, will be that your family will now be spread over two households. Even if one of you stays with the kids in the family home, it’s still a big adjustment for them to have one parent no longer there. If you need to move the kids, however, it’s essential to let them have some say in how their new home is set up — even if it’s just choosing new bedspreads and wall art for their bedrooms.
If you have to move the kids to a new town or even a new neighborhood, their lives will undergo even more tumult. They may have to leave their schools and friends. Don’t underestimate how difficult this may be for them and how much support you need to give them. If possible, help them stay in touch with their friends and continue to participate in their music lessons or sports teams.
Routine will be more important than ever for your kids. That means putting together a detailed parenting plan with your ex-spouse and sticking to it. The two of you likely don’t parent in exactly the same way, but you should agree on shared goals and expectations for the kids regardless of whose home they’re in.
Holidays can be a big test of your new family structure. While you likely won’t have some of the traditions you used to share as a family, you can strive to continue your kids’ favorite traditions, even if you do so separately in each of your homes or before or after the holiday you’re celebrating. Divorced families often create new traditions that kids remember fondly into adulthood.
As noted, having a detailed parenting plan from the beginning is key. However, that plan may need to be modified as you determine what works and what doesn’t and as your kids get older. It’s typically best not to regularly veer too far off your parenting plan without codifying the changes. This can help minimize confusion and conflict. Your family law attorney can help you.