Co-parenting after divorce is a challenge for both the parents and the children. Parents are getting used to their new lives after the divorce, while the children try to adjust to life with divorced parents who live in two different households and lead separate lives. One of the trickiest situations for many parents is “the handoff” – that moment where the child goes from one parent to another. Coming up with the least disruptive handoff arrangement is a good first step towards successful co-parenting.
Choosing the right location
Depending on the age and maturity of the child, the handoff may be relatively uneventful, or it may be a dramatic tantrum of tears and drama. Research shows that younger children need, even crave, routine. Any disruption in that routine could lead to a meltdown. If you have toddlers or younger, school age children, you and your spouse should create a plan that outlines exactly when each of you will pick up or drop off your children, and try to stick to the same places and times every week.
You also want to ensure that you and your former spouse both get the opportunity to make the most of your parenting time. This means you may want to arrange to have the other parent bring the child to you, rather than you going to the other parent’s home to pick up the child. You could show up in the middle of a fun activity and find yourself in the uncomfortable position of taking them away from the other parent, or interrupting dinner, or finding yourself in any number of difficult positions.
If you and your co-parent are not on good terms, it might work out better to meet at a neutral location rather than having them show up at your house with the kids, or you going to their house. Meeting in the middle ensures that the kids are packed and ready to go, and it also ensures that you are not disrupting their time.
Tips for ensuring a smooth transition from one parent to another
Here are some tips for making the handoff go as smoothly as possible:
- Be prepared. Prepare yourself emotionally so that you can be strong for your child. Prepare your child by reassuring them about spending time with their other parent.
- Give the child a transitional object. Younger children might feel comforted by bringing a stuffed animal or a special blanket with them.
- Confirm the time and place with your ex the night before. This can save a lot of frustration for you and your child.
- Show up on time. If you want your ex to adhere to the routine, you must do so, too.
- Be cordial with your ex. Keep the transition short and focused on the children.
The first time you drop your kids off with their other parent and then drive home alone will likely be difficult or you, so make plans to spend time with friends or do something that you enjoy. Be encouraged by the fact that these transition times will get easier as everyone concerned adjusts to the new arrangement. Facing the challenges of managing a co-parenting relationship after divorce is never easy. Consider finding a therapist or trusted friend to talk to and who will give you much needed emotional support so that you can provide the emotional support that your child will need as they get used to the changes in their life after your divorce.
Going through a divorce and dealing with a child custody dispute can be a lonely, challenging time. The Nashville family law attorneys at Karla C. Miller and Associates, PLLC, will be your strong advocate and protect your interests throughout your divorce and child custody proceedings. You are welcome to call us today at 615-454-9899 or fill out our contact form to reserve your consultation with an experienced Nashville divorce lawyer.