Divorce is never an easy process, especially when there are kids involved. The bad news is–the complications never fully go away, but there are things you can do to try to make life moving forward a bit smoother.
Research has shown it takes most kids about a year to adjust to a divorce once it is final. As long as you and your former spouse can end things fairly amicably and design a parenting plan with your child’s best interests in mind, they can be resilient and adjust.
Now at some point down the road you may consider dating, and even remarrying, but as a parent you’ve opened up a whole new bag of worries. How can you introduce your child to your new partner? How will your ex react to you seeing someone new? If you decide to remarry or move in together, how can you blend your families in a way that feels natural and healthy?
Every family and relationship is different so what works in one relationship certainly won’t work for all but there are a few things you should consider to help with the transition.
Be clear about boundaries.
It may be a good idea to discuss this eventual scenario even during the divorce process or once the dust has settled and all the papers are signed. Come to an agreement with your former spouse about what each of you expects from the other person when you begin dating again.
Your former spouse has no right to say if you can date again, but you should be clear with each other about how long you should date before the new partner gets to meet the children. Will you introduce your former spouse to your new partner before they meet your children?
When you do begin dating seriously, these expectations should be shared with your new partner as well. Be clear about what you expect their role to be. They don’t need to be replace the other parent.
It’s common for co-parenting schedules to be complex but when you add in another adult and possibly more children on their side, it can be even worse.
In the beginning, try to plan some alone time with your biological children so they have time to express their feelings to you privately about the new family dynamics. If you both have children entering the relationship, try to plan your new co-parenting schedules up so that you can have a few days all together as a family but a few with just one side at a time.
Talk, talk, talk.
Open communications is so important. Plan time to check in with each member of the family together and privately. You might spend some time each night talking to each child just before they go to bed, check in by text with your co-parent, and schedule weekly dates with your new partner when you can be alone. All of this will help everyone have the opportunity to express what is working and what is not.
During this process, when you are making an effort to hear from every side, it’s important to respect everyone’s point of view. It may be wrong–but try to see it from their eyes and do you best to talk through it.
Kids communicate best when there is no pressure. Talk to them during a long car ride, when they don’t have to look you in the eye, or join them in doing an activity they enjoy.
Go easy on yourself.
No one is going to be perfect all the time and blending two families is not an easy process. It is OK if everyone doesn’t get along right away. Focus on what is going well and don’t be afraid to seek professional help when you need it.
Pangerl Law Firm P.L.L.C. focuses on divorce, child custody, mother’s and father’s rights, child support, and all other areas of family law, as well as personal injury claims. Our office is located in Deer Valley and serves the greater Phoenix area, including the communities of Scottsdale, Peoria, Glendale, Cave Creek, Avondale, Goodyear, Surprise, Mesa, Tempe, Anthem, New River, North Phoenix and Phoenix. For more information, call: 602-942-6200.