Parents going through a separation in Michigan know that divorce is more complicated when children are involved. Ideally, both parents will share custody of their children and work together to make parental decisions, often referred to as “co-parenting,” but it can be hard at times to give up control. When going through a separation, especially a bitter one, parents should keep in mind that “bad spouse” does not mean “bad parent.” Unless a parent actually has concerns about abusive behavior, parents should trust that their ex can handle the kids solo.
One important rule to keep in mind is that parents should never say negative things about each other to their children. Doing this will only confuse and upset children who feel torn between their parents. Rather than venting about their own frustrations, parents should make a concerted effort to listen to their children, which includes letting them express their feelings about the divorce. Parents should be patient with their children since the kids may need to have multiple discussions as they adapt to the separation.
It is common for parents to get into child custody disputes, but they should keep in mind that joint custody is about doing what is best for the children, not for themselves. Discussions about child custody scheduling are not the place for parents to make a power grab, particularly if the parents are not even able to care for their children during the days on which they are insisting on having custody.
Child custody schedules come in all shapes and forms, and parents should customize the schedule based on their child’s needs as well as the practical limitations of their own schedules. Parents should also go into discussions with an open mind and a willingness to change the schedule later if need be. Family law attorneys may help parents create a schedule that accounts for contingencies and allows for some flexibility.