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Visitation issues to watch for

When it comes to visitation after divorce, you have every intention of making things work. However, there's something you need to remember: You're not the only person involved in the process.

If your ex-spouse and your children aren't on the same page as you, you could find yourself with a problem on your hands.

Child custody questions to answer during the divorce process

As you prepare for the divorce process, there's nothing more important than understanding the impact it'll have on your children and the steps you can take to protect them.

This typically starts with a clear understanding of child custody. Here are some of the many questions you should answer before and during the divorce process:

  • Are you okay with the idea of joint custody, or do you have reason to believe that sole custody is in the best interest of your children?
  • Are you familiar with the difference between physical custody and legal custody?
  • Are your children old enough to have a say in where they live and how they visit with their noncustodial parent?
  • If you receive physical custody of your children, do you want to remain in the family home or seek somewhere else to live?
  • Are you familiar with the way visitation works for the noncustodial parent?

How to explain visitation to your children

Depending on the age of your children, they may have a basic idea of how the divorce process works and what it means to them. And even if they're too young to realize exactly what's happening, they're still smart enough to know that they're no longer living in the same house with both their parents.

It's critical to take the right steps when explaining visitation to your children. You want them to be clear about what it is, as well as the benefits for everyone involved. Here are some of the things you can do:

  • Talk about the benefits to them: For example, explain how these visits give them more time with their other parent. And with permission from your ex, you can even go into details about all the fun things they'll get to do.
  • Explain how it works: Before your children leave you, let them know how long they'll be gone and whether or not they're staying overnight. You don't want anything to catch them by surprise.
  • Let them have a say: Even though you and your ex need to closely follow your parenting agreement and visitation schedule, it's okay for your children to have a say in what happens. This is particularly true if they're old enough to know what is happening. As long as both you and your ex are okay with the decisions being made, it should work out for the best. You want to settle on a visitation schedule and arrangement that makes everyone happy.

Co-parenting and your ex: When to discuss your concerns

During the divorce process, you create a parenting agreement that's designed to help you and your ex provide stability for your children. While you may consider it an important part of your post-divorce life, your ex may not take it nearly as seriously.

If co-parenting isn't working out and you and your ex have problems with your parenting agreement, it often makes sense to discuss your concerns with your ex. It's hoped that this conversation will rectify your concerns and get everything back on track.

How to work through a child custody dispute with your ex

The last thing you want to deal with after a stressful divorce is a child custody dispute. However, if you share children with your ex, there's a good chance this will happen at some point.

It's easy to believe that every dispute will result in a serious argument, but this doesn't have to be the case. There are steps you can take to calmly work through a child custody dispute, thereby reducing tension and allowing you to be better co-parents in the future.

How to ask your ex to change your visitation date

If you have visitation rights with your children, you know that you only get to spend so much time with them. For this reason, you do your best to make the most of every minute you are together.

However, when life gets in the way, you may find that you can't keep your scheduled visitation. At that point, it's critical to explain your situation to your ex in hopes of finding common ground that works for both of you, as well as your children.

How to spend time with your ex while co-parenting

Once you divorce, you hope that you never again have to spend one-on-one time with your ex. And while you have this choice, keep in mind that there may be times when you are in close proximity alongside your children.

For example, if you and your ex are both attending a sporting event or recital for your child, you need to act civil. Here are some tips you can follow to ease the tension and make it through the event without incident:

  • Greet your ex: Rather than act like you don't see your ex or ignore them completely, say hello. Not only does this eliminate some of the awkwardness, but it also kicks things off on the right foot.
  • Don't discuss anything that could cause an argument: For example, this isn't the time or place to discuss your parenting agreement, visitation schedule or recent conflicts. If you have something you need to discuss, wait until the appropriate time.
  • Respect their time with your children: Take for instance a piano recital. Upon completion, both you and your ex want to spend time congratulating your child and chatting with them. Wait your turn, take your turn and then respect your ex's time with your child.

How to plan a vacation with your children after divorce

It doesn't matter if you have physical custody of your children or visitation rights, there may come a point after divorce when you want to take a vacation with them. While it sounds simple enough to book a trip, there are steps you must take to ensure that you and your ex are on the same page.

Here are the steps you want to take:

  • Inform your spouse: Let them know that you want to take a vacation with your children, and share as many details as possible. For example, let them know the destination, dates and how you plan on traveling to and from.
  • Be flexible: For example, you may have to ask your ex to adjust their visitation schedule in order to accommodate your vacation. If they're unable to do so entirely to your liking, remain flexible so you can find a schedule that works for the two of you.
  • Review your divorce settlement and parenting agreement: You may find that there are restrictions on how you can travel with your children, such as taking them out of the state or country.

The benefits of shared custody to your children

When you decide to divorce, you're likely to have concerns about the impact on your children. And not only are you worried about what it will do to them right now, you may have concerns about how it could affect them over the rest of their life.

This is why you want to do everything you can to stabilize their life during this difficult transition. For example, when possible, shared custody is often the best route. This gives your children the opportunity to continue to spend time with both parents.

How to prepare your children for a visit with their other parent

Even though it may not be something you want your children to do, it's critical that they are able to spend time with both parents after divorce. This can help them maintain a healthy relationship with their other parent, which will have a positive impact on their life for years to come.

Depending on the age of your children, you may need to take several key steps to prepare them for a visit with your ex. Here are some tips to follow:

  • Talk to your ex about the details: For example, if your children are nervous about an upcoming visit, perhaps because they'll be away from you for longer than ever before, talk to your ex about their concerns.
  • Don't get in the way: It's tempting to bad mouth your ex in front of your children, but doing this won't make them happy about having to spend time with them. Keep your feelings regarding your ex to yourself.
  • Ask them if they have any questions: Don't assume that your children are okay with the visit they're about to take. Ask questions, answer them to the best of your ability and reassure them when possible.
  • Keep a positive attitude: If you're positive about the experience, your children are likely to follow suit. But if you're down in the dumps about the visit, they may begin to feel the same way.
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