12 Considerations for Divorce With Kids | Divorced Parents

Divorce and separation with children are complicated. Both involve child custody and mean you'll have to stay in touch with your ex.

To cover all your bases as a divorcing parent, consider these 12 issues and discuss any questions with your lawyer.

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1. The best interests of the children

The number one thing to keep in mind during and after your divorce is the best interest of your children. This concept guides every court custody decision, and it should guide all your parenting decisions.

What a judge looks at to assess a child's best interest varies by state. Make sure you understand how custody works in your state, including what is typically considered best for children there.

2. Whom the kids will live with

Physical custody determines which parent the children live with. In sole physical custody, they'll live with one parent all or most of the time. Joint physical custody places the child with each parent for equal or nearly equal time.

3. Who will make decisions for the kids

Legal custody is the right and responsibility to make decisions on your child's behalf. This includes choosing your child's school, religion and doctors. This right could belong to one parent (sole legal custody) or both parents (joint legal custody).

4. Your parenting plan

A parenting plan is your guide to parenting after divorce. If you and the other parent can't agree on a plan, you'll likely have to submit a proposed plan for the judge to consider when deciding the final custody order.

You must include a written version of your visitation schedule. Including a visual calendar can make it easier to understand your schedule, reducing the chances of either parent violating the custody order.

You'll round the document out with parenting plan provisions, like parenting rules. These could cover how parents will handle transporting the child to and from visits, the child's diet, etc.

5. Your children's ages

The effects of divorce on children vary by age. You should expect the divorce to have some impact on your kids, regardless of how well you think they'll remember it. Your role in helping your children deal with the divorce is pivotal

Babies and toddlers won't be able to grasp the concept beyond the fact that one of their parents is leaving, but they can pick up on your emotions. They'll need affection and reassurance that their parents aren't "divorcing" them and will still be around to provide care.

School-age children and teenagers may know what divorce means, but they shouldn't be intimately aware of what caused it. Putting them in the middle may cause discomfort and prompt them to choose sides.

Many people say the preteens are the worst age for divorce for children, so give kids around this developmental stage extra support.

Be sure to choose a good parenting schedule for your children's ages. Each child could have a different schedule if there are significant age gaps; what works for a teenager won't work for a toddler.

6. Each parent–child relationship

Your children's relationship with each parent should inform the custody arrangement you choose.

If the children have developed close bonds with both parents, you should try to make shared custody work. When the children haven't spent much one-on-one time with a parent, try to ease them into visits with that parent using a step-up parenting plan.

If a parent presents a danger to a child's well-being, consider asking the court to add restrictions like supervised visitation.

7. Your future relationship with the other parent

Choose a parenting arrangement that is compatible with how well you can cooperate with the other parent.

Parents on amicable terms could have fruitful co-parenting relationships. But if discussions with the other parent are likely to turn into arguments, consider an arrangement like parallel parenting.

The relationship between parents will also impact how you'll discuss parenting issues. Communicating through a parenting app can help you keep your language in check and keep a record of conversations.

8. Settling out of court

Settling means reaching a compromise with the other parent instead of letting the court decide. It saves time and money and leaves parenting decisions up to parents. Try to settle with the other parent on as many issues as possible. Put your joint decisions into a divorce settlement agreement that includes a parenting plan.

You can settle before going to court or during the court process. You and the other parent can work together to negotiate a parenting plan or try an alternative dispute resolution method for help negotiating. Many states require divorcing parents to try mediation.

Though parents often handle divorce and child custody together, it's possible to settle custody and allow the judge to decide all the other divorce matters.

9. Child support

Child support ensures both parents contribute financially to their children's upbringing. Generally, it's the noncustodial parent who pays support to the custodial parent.

Each state has a formula for calculating support based on parents' incomes and share of parenting time among other things. Some states include the cost of the child's health insurance in the support award.

10. Temporary orders

Lawyers often recommended that parents going through divorce get temporary orders for custody, support and other matters while the case is in progress.

If your case involves suspected child abuse or domestic violence, you should take action immediately to protect yourself and your children. Emergency orders provide temporary custody and protection for those who may be in danger. The court decides whether such orders are necessary and how long they remain in effect.

11. Other divorce aspects

Aspects of divorce like alimony and property division are the same for cases involving children as they are for those that do not.

However, if you leave the assignment of the family home up to the judge, they're likely to give it to the parent who receives more time with the children, as that's where your children feel comfortable.

12. Life after divorce with kids

Try to cover everything in your parenting plan that could possibly lead to disagreements after the divorce. If you plan ahead, life after divorce with kids can be even smoother than your life before the divorce.

Divorced parents will always have a bond through the children they share. You don't have to be friends, but at the very least you should remain cordial and avoid bad-mouthing one another in front of the kids.

Also, think about your finances and whether you'll have to adjust your family's lifestyle. Child support may help, but going from two household incomes to one is a big shift.

Ease into post-divorce parenthood

Parenting post divorce isn't easy, but it doesn't have to be a struggle.

A co-parenting app is essential. It streamlines the complexities of raising your children in two households.

The Custody X Change app walks you through each step of creating a parenting plan.

It also lets you link accounts with the other parent so you can collaborate on parenting schedules, exchange messages and more.

The easiest way to parent post-divorce is with Custody X Change.

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