LAW OFFICES OF KELLI J. MALCOLM

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What to Consider if You are Getting a Divorce With Kids

Divorce is painful for everyone, but it is especially painful to see your children lose the cohesive family unit that they thought they would have forever. During the year in which you file for divorce, your workload increases at least twofold, and the smallest tasks can feel overwhelming, whether or not you have children. When you hear about couples who had a virtually painless divorce, most of those couples did not have minor children together. All divorce cases involving parents of minor children include a court-ordered parenting plan, which becomes legally enforceable at the time the divorce is finalized; most couples agree to the terms of their parenting plan during mediation, but if they cannot reach an agreement, the court will apportion parenting time according to what it considers to be the children’s best interests. An Aurora child custody lawyer can help you navigate the struggles of divorce and co-parenting and achieve a stable post-divorce life with your children.

Maintaining Continuity of the Children’s Routines

Most parents, no matter how acrimonious their divorce, can agree to put their children’s needs first. Colorado law uses the term “parental responsibility” to include legal decision-making power and parenting time.

In most families, especially when the children are old enough to go to school, it is obvious to both parents what kind of parenting schedule would be best for the children. For example, having the parents trade off nights, or even having them trade off entire weeks, is only feasible if the parents both live near the school. Most of the time, one parent’s schedule is already adapted to meeting the children at the bus stop when the bus drops them off and transporting them to extracurricular activities.

Sometimes, though, the family’s situation means that the children will need to change their routine, no matter how the parents divide their parenting time. In this case, if the parents are at an impasse about which parent should keep the children on school days, the court will choose the option that it thinks will be the easiest adjustment for the children. 

Managing Stress and Other Negative Emotions

Trying to give your children a normal life while you are going through a divorce is stressful, especially when you are trying to adjust to a single income household. Feeling angry and overwhelmed by the pressures of divorce and co-parenting is normal. It is fine to say terrible things about your ex to your friends or your siblings, who probably know enough of the context to understand your frustrations, and who also probably have some idea about what your ex’s side of the story would be. It is not okay to badmouth your ex on social media or in front of your children. The former could be considered harassment and, if addressed directly to your ex or your ex’s new partner, could get you criminal charges if the content is sufficiently abusive or threatening. The latter counts against you in the family court’s decisions about parenting time.

Creating New Holiday Memories With Children After Divorce

It is easy enough to get used to having your weekends free for sleep, exercise, socializing, housework, or additional paid gigs instead of constantly picking up Legos, cleaning up drink spills, and fussing at your kids to turn down the volume on the iPad. Spending the holidays without your children is painful, though, and so is spending them with your children while the fog of divorce hangs in the air. Whichever holidays the parenting plan awards to you, you should look for new ways to make them special. Your extended family can be a great source of emotional support during the holidays when the children are with you and the holidays when they are with your ex-spouse.

Being a Divorced Parent of Babies

For the youngest children, joint decision making and parenting time usually works best. Some parents choose to alternate days of parenting time with a toddler or have the toddler spend three-and-a-half days per week with each parent. Some infants even spend the afternoon or evening with their fathers and the rest of the time with their mothers. If your parenting plan is like this, you will probably need to modify it by the time the child begins attending school.

Being a Divorced Parent of Teenagers

When children are old enough to express their preferences about parenting time, the court often considers these preferences when determining the children’s best interests. There is no set age where a child gets to choose. A court will take a child’s preferences into consideration, but it is one of many things a court considers to determine what is in the child’s best interests. 

Teens tend to have many time commitments, such as part-time jobs and extracurricular activities; the schedules of these commitments may frequently change, requiring your family to adjust the parenting plan, at least informally. Remember that the parenting plan contains provisions about how parents should share the responsibility for decision-making, which means that your parenting plan already decides whether you or your ex has the last word about where and when a teen with a driver’s license is allowed to drive.

A Child Custody Lawyer Can Make Co-Parenting Easier

Divorced parents in Colorado’s Front Range can benefit from the help of an experienced family law attorney when it comes to finalizing a parenting plan and navigating the challenges of co-parenting after divorce. Contact the Law Offices of Kelli J. Malcolm LLC to discuss your case.