How to Explain Custody Agreements to Your ChildrenBy Moskowitz Law Group, LLC |
Without a doubt, parental separation is one of the most difficult things a child can experience. Nearly everything in the child’s life changes, often with very little warning. All of a sudden, the child is split between two homes, disrupting their natural routine as they learn to manage different home environments. It is understandable that this transition can cause a lot of anxiety and inner turmoil for a young child. To help support your family through such a significant change, here are a few ways you can explain custody agreements to your children.
Affirm and Support
With so much change happening so quickly, it is natural for a child to begin asking questions about what caused their parents’ separation. Not fully understanding complex relational dynamics, the child may begin to think that they are the reason their parents split up. After all, either one of their parents is moving away from them, or they are going to see their parents equally, but in two different environments.
For this reason, it is important to affirm your love for your children during and after your divorce. Communicate that you still enjoy spending time with them, even if you will not be seeing them as often. Reinforce that it is not that they are not wanted at both homes, but rather that their parents are trying to fairly divide time spent with them so that both parents get to enjoy their company.
In the same vein, make sure your child knows that, regardless of what house or houses they are living in, they can always speak to the other parent. This influx of information is more than likely going to cause some confusion for your child, so make sure both you and your ex are on the same page about listening and giving honest, age-appropriate responses to your child’s questions.
If both parents are civil enough with each other, it may also be a good idea for both parents to sit down and speak with the children at the time. This presents to the children a “united front” and ensures that they are hearing consistent reassurance from their parents.
Clarify Visitation Schedules
Another confusing aspect of a separation or divorce for the children involved is visitation schedules. Be sure to take the time to fully explain as many aspects as possible of their new schedule to reduce their anxiety and sense of confusion. The more time you take to explain the intricacies of their new living arrangements, the more likely your child will be to accept and adapt to it.
Children tend to find comfort in concrete visual reminders, so consider creating a visual visitation schedule with your child to help them understand this adjustment. While you are creating your visitation schedule, make sure to include fun colors and special occasions for your child to look forward to with each of their parents. Clearly label which parent the child will be with at what times and refer back to this plan as necessary. After you finish creating your chart, display it in an easily accessible location your child can find, allowing them to keep track of time or add occasions they are looking forward to.
Seek Additional Support
Divorce and separation are not only difficult for children but for parents as well. If you feel that you and your child could use additional support, consider employing the help of a trained mental health professional or counselor.
Our Child Custody Attorneys Are Here for Your Family
If you need help establishing a consistent custody agreement for your child, contact the Moskowitz Law Group. Our family law attorneys can help you create a custody arrangement that focuses on the wellbeing of your children.