Living arrangements for children after divorce or separation
Children thrive on the kind of dependable order that only we as parents can provide them. Getting the basic arrangements in place quickly is an important step that parents can take to minimise the long-term impact on children and help the process of healthy recovery. There are many different contact patterns you can choose for your family. You should agree on a pattern that works for your children at the age they are now and be prepared to change to a different pattern as they get older.
Ask feedback from your children but be clear you are the adults and you will make the final decision. Beware of asking them too much, what they want – they potentially don’t know, or it will not be possible…then your asking will seem insincere to them.
As a guide
- Make sure there are duplicate sets of clothes/shoes in each home and that you and the other parent have an agreement to take equal responsibility for laundry. Don’t send dirty clothes back to the other parent!
- Share the responsibility for knowing the children’s homework schedule and ensuring that homework deadlines are met.
- Both maintain an informed overview of your children’s developing social lives so these are accommodated as seamlessly as possible between both homes.
- Try to each ensure that when the children are with you, life is a mixture of ordinary daily routine and fun down-time, so that neither experience becomes polarised between the two homes.
- Remember, when it’s your time with the children you are responsible for their care. Don’t expect the other parent to accommodate you automatically if your plans need to change.
Your children are your first and last priority – work and other arrangements come second.
Here are some questions and considerations to help you make living arrangements work. (Some of the questions and considerations won’t be relevant to everyone)
- How will we share the care? E.g. shared care with 50/50 time split
- What pattern of days works best? E.g. week on / week off
- Will our work allow for any new arrangements we are considering?
- Where will we and the kids live? E.g. we both live in separate houses near to their school
- If neither of us can look after the children, who are we agreed can look after them? E.g. family members, friends, babysitters etc
- How will pick ups and drop offs work?
- Are there times where contacting the kids is inconvenient when with the other parent?
If you and/or your ex would like some help with any aspect of co-parenting. Get in touch for advice from an amicable expert.