Co-Parenting After Divorce in Connecticut
Westport Divorce Lawyer
Perhaps the most amicable resolution possible when divorcing with children in the picture involves an attempt at co-parenting, or joint custody. In Connecticut, parenting responsibilities following divorce are divided into legal and physical custody. Legal custody determines which, if not both, of the parents are responsible for the decision-making on behalf of the child. These decisions may include financial, medical, educational, religious, or other important decisions a family may face when raising children. Physical custody determines where the child physically resides—this may be at one or both of the parents’ residences depending on the circumstances surrounding the divorce. Co-parenting can be very difficult for the family, but can have tremendous benefits for the psychological health of your child. With thorough communication, joint custody arrangements can be an amicable and successful option for divorcing couples. Understanding your rights, responsibilities, and options as a divorcing parent are critical, and hiring an experienced divorce and child custody attorney can assist you with this tremendously.
Joint and Shared Custody Arrangements in Connecticut
Joint custody in Connecticut means that the marital child or children live primarily with one of the parents, while the other has visitation rights. Shared custody means that the parents each share equally in the physical custody of the children. The former is usually more common, given that it accommodates more individuals’ schedules. Both schedules are possible to accommodate, especially when carefully thought out and planned ahead of time. This is particularly true when planning vacations and holidays. Figuring out, far in advance, the schedule for summer break, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and various school holidays can help eliminate unnecessary conflict that causes stress on the whole family.
Communicate With Your Ex Spouse
Most of the arguments between your family about custody may not come from the child, but instead, from your disgruntled ex-spouse. Trying to address issues before they become full-fledged problems is one of the best ways to prevent conflict. Holidays can be difficult because every family has their own traditions, and you had likely developed your own as a family before the divorce. Changing these traditions may be difficult or confusing to children (especially to young children) and may offend your extended families if these traditions are suddenly changed or eliminated as a result of the divorce. Try to take the time to understand what is most important to your ex-spouse: Have you gone to your husband’s mom’s for dinner every year on Christmas Eve? Do your children have a routine of waking up with your sister’s children as a family? What about the Fourth of July family reunion picnic? These annual events can be benchmarked in advance to avoid conflict. Summer holidays can be traded on-and-off, in addition to spring and winter breaks from school.
Communicate With Your Children
Depending on their age, your child may have difficulty understanding what is going on post-divorce. While maintaining traditions at the holidays can be helpful, routine and continuity in daily life are also important. Some parents may be quick to assign blame for the divorce, even passively or unintentionally making comments about the divorce that deflects onto the child. While you, as the parent, are going through a tremendous emotional time, it is critical to remember the effect this is having on your children as well. Speaking ill of your ex-spouse may create psychological and behavioral problems down the road . . . something that can be easily prevented by acting as amicable as possible toward one another post-divorce. If you are sharing custody, chances are that your children will hear you talk on the phone, watch you interact, and hear you talking to your friends about the divorce. Take the time to talk to your kids, together, about your decision to get a divorce and explain what will change in the future. Doing this before the divorce is finalized can help ease the transition and help more mature children adapt to the changes.
Communicate With Your New Partner
Eventually, you and your spouse will likely begin seeing other people. When this happens, the same rules apply regarding “bad-mouthing” your ex. Children in the house are very cognizant of remarks about their other parent, and this has the added layer of confusion of having a new person (besides mom and dad) in the picture. Avoid additional confusion and emotion by ensuring your new partner is not going to take part or initiate ill discussion regarding your ex spouse. Even seemingly innocent comments may upset or confuse a child. Having an understanding from the beginning with your new partner will ensure you are on the same page regarding raising your child, and solidify the expectations in the relationship regarding your ex-spouse.
Westport, Connecticut Child Custody Attorney
Regardless of whether you are considering divorce, or going through a divorce and attempting to come to a child custody resolution, experienced Connecticut family law attorney Richard H. Raphael can help. Mr. Raphael has decades of experience in handling even the most complex divorce matters. He will listen to your concerns and make sure you understand what is going on in your case every step of the way. He will expedite the proceedings to the extent possible and work hard to achieve the best possible outcome for you and your children. Contact Mr. Raphael’s Westport law office at 203-226-6168 today to learn more about your legal rights.