A successful divorce is one in which the parents divorce each other but do not require the child to divorce one of the parents, either as a result of parental conflict or by one parent not being available to the child. Co- parenting can be a viable option when it is implemented by parents who want it to work because they understand that the child’s needs supersede their own self interest, and it can be successful and rewarding for both the child and the parents. IMPACT OF SEPARATION AND DIVORCE ON CHILDREN There are many threatening and frightening things that happen to individuals whose relationship ends up in separation or divorce. When there are no children of the relationship, the adults can separate their lives relatively easily, albeit not without pain. For a child, however, the termination of a nuclear family is, most often, highly traumatizing.
Generally, this is also their primary fear. Younger children do not have the intellectual resources, or older children the emotional resources to understand this as anything other than, “I am being left by my parent!” When asked, “What do you worry about most?” They often respond with, “I am afraid I will never see one of my parents again.” When children of separation or divorce are asked, “What are your three wishes?” most will usually say something like, “I wish my Mom and Dad were back together.” A central reason that divorce is so difficult for children is the fact that they have little life experience to understand why their parents would separate and what happens when a parent, or when both parents, leaves the family home. They frequently worry, “If ONE of my parents mysteriously left home today, who is to say that my OTHER parent won’t leave home tomorrow, and there will be nobody left to take care of me?” Often, children are afraid to ask what will happen.
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They are afraid they may hear that their worst fear has come true - that their parents have indeed, permanently abandoned by their parents. And, if the parents do not explain what the separation means and doesn’t mean for the child, then the child may remain in a state of chronic anxiety. Sometimes, this anxiety gets expressed as acting- out with aggressive and non- compliant behavior, and sometimes it gets expressed as withdrawn behavior, eating problems, sleeping problems, and/or school problems. So, if a child’s behavior has changed from a usual pattern, it may simply be a red flag being waved saying, “I’m having difficulty dealing with this situation. Can you please help me by explaining what is going on?” Your child needs you to take time to explain in detail what the separation will mean to him or her. This is an excellent time to reassure your children that the separation and divorce are not their fault. It is not something they said, did, felt, or thought that made Daddy or Mommy leave.
Give the child a simple explanation of why the separation did take place. Present it in a way that does not put down the other parent. And what is co- parenting? Let us begin by defining some terms and concepts.
Some examples of such issues that need decisions would be as follows: Does the child need braces? What school will the child attend? What religion will the child practice? The typical options for Legal Custody are either Sole legal custody, or Joint legal custody.
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THE IMPACT OF GRIEF ON SUCCESSFUL CO-PARENTING. Most parents want to co-parent successfully and strive to conduct. Splitting couples turn to mediation Couples going through martial or domestic breakups are. The Program The Parent Mediation Program is a community-based program for parents who are no longer able to live together but still want to co-parent. The Program partners with five Community Mediation Centers. 90% of parents who complete the Kids First program report improvement. Kids First offers an online co-parenting program with.
A parent with Sole legal custody has authority to make all major decisions about the child. Parents with Joint legal custody share the authority to make major decisions about their child. The typical options are Sole physical custody or Joint physical custody. A parent with Sole physical custody has responsibility for the child the significant majority of the time. Parents with Joint physical custody share responsibility for the child’s time within a more equitable schedule. It is important to note that neither Joint physical nor Joint legal custody necessarily mean an exactly equal time- sharing arrangement.
The legal definitions of these terms have purposely been left general and broad by the legislatures, so that any specific application could take into account the particular needs of a given child and his or her family situation. Any and all time- sharing plans should be based on the very broad standard of “the best interests of the child.” It should take into consideration the child’s developmental needs.
VISITATION. Another term to define is visitation. This is generally considered to be the time that the child shares with the non- custodial parent. Notice these highlighted terms - custody, visitation. They sound like the child is a piece of property, or a prisoner. We know that, with rare exceptions, it is in the child’s best interest to have regular and continuing contact with both parents. And, with very young children (under the age of 4 or 5), it is important if at all possible to have frequent contact with each parent.
This is because of their very limited memory, which after only several days fades the image of the missing parent. This all is to say the child’s rights have to supersede the parent’s rights. It is the child’s right to have access to both parents. It is the parent’s obligation and responsibility to be available and to care for the child.
PARENTING PLAN Less competitive or “fighting words” and more collaborative terminology would be helpful in lowering the stress of an already difficult situation. For example, rather than using the terms “custody” and “visitation,” I suggest using the more emotionally neutral term, “parenting plan.” This term contains the more normalized concepts of a child sharing time with or living with each parent at different times. In a written parenting plan, sentences begin with, “The child will share time with (or, live with) each parent according to the following schedule: ” rather than, “The Father has visitation on alternate weekends.” Even if the child sees one parent only once a year for a few days, the child is still sharing time and living with that parent during that time period. This is critical for the adjustment and stability of the child during the often chaotic and stressful period following the break up. If, during the relationship, there had been a primary parent carrying out the major responsibility in time and effort, then such should remain the initial basis of a parenting plan. It need not remain as such forever, but it should begin with the status quo from the child’s view, and be modified gradually over time.
It is important to understand that no agreement is written in stone. All parenting plans are negotiable, as various needs arise that necessitate modification of the plan. CO- PARENTING Technically, co- parenting exists with any parenting arrangement, regardless of its formal designation.
In whatever way each parent is involved in raising the child, the parents co- parent. Most effective co- parenting arrangements contain the following characteristic dynamics between the parents: cooperation, communication, compromise, and consistency. These dynamics often grow over time and typically take a period of years to evolve effectively.
PARALLEL PARENTING While meaningful co- parenting can only be carried out by parents in a working, functional, parental relationship, parallel parenting is more characteristic of parents in a dysfunctional relationship dynamic. Parallel parenting manifests when there is an insufficient degree of cooperation, communication, compromise, or consistency to carry out co- parenting. Frequently, in the beginning stages of a separation or divorce, parallel parenting may exist as a result of the lack of trust and sense of betrayal. While most parents are able to work through these dynamics to establish a more cooperative relationship, some parents are not and they remain in a power struggle that affects all negotiations between them. Certainly, when post- divorce parenting arrangements are Court- ordered in an adversarial court battle, such on- going patterns are common. This anxiety results from the child’s awareness of the great potential for parental fights to ensue at these times. It is important to protect the children from this potential for parental conflict to erupt.
Minimizing verbal and physical contact between the parents can help. It is often useful to utilize written communication (letters, faxes, e- mail, etc.), or a third party, for communication purposes.
The first two are appropriately referred to as functional co- parenting. The next two are dysfunctional relationships that can manage “parallel parenting” at best. And, the last category, Dissolved Duos, sadly for the children, consists of 1. These parents like one another.
They usually do all their own legal work and establish a parenting plan that is in the “best interests of the child.” They are flexible and have respect for each other, both as co- parents and as friends. These are the individuals who will be able to celebrate holidays together. Even after remarriage to others, they may, for example, all celebrate Thanksgiving dinner together. When graduation comes, they might purchase one present together for their child and sit together at the ceremony. COOPERATIVE COLLEAGUES While still within the co- parenting category, Cooperative Colleagues have a difficult time when they separate.
They most likely have attorneys or require a third party to assist in finalizing plans of the marital settlement. Most often these people did not make a mutual decision to separate. They still do not necessarily like each other, but they respect one another as parents. They can separate their parenting from their partnering issues. They support the child’s involvement in each other’s lives and in the lives of the extended families.
They are generally courteous to each other. A few times a year, they may have a disagreement that initially will require third party intervention, but they are able to resolve such disputes outside of Court. At graduation, for example, they may or may not sit together.
Either way, they are cordial and not overtly hostile.
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