No doubt if you are divorced or in the middle of divorcing you have just managed a holiday with something called split visitation. As I ventured through Dallas-Love Field airport I could see all the “Unaccompanied Minors” making their way to the other parent’s house for the holiday. I was also on this venture with my son and while it is a stressful time it is court ordered and part of the “new normal” for some of today’s modern families.
Being able to adjust will help you get through some of these stressful situations and try to create a sense of normalcy during the holidays. Here are a few things to consider as you begin the new year as a newly divorced or veteran divorced parent. Even if you were never married, navigating the visitation schedule and co-parenting with a difficult ex can be made easier once you begin to focus on what you can control. What you can control is your attitude, your emotions, your reaction, and the things that come out of your mouth.
Here are few things to remember as you navigate the rest of the year:
- The custody agreement is set in stone by the LAW and is an unemotional document and a minimum standard. The point of it is to set the foundation or routine but it is the responsibility of the parents involved to learn how to compromise. It doesn’t legislate feelings and emotions and it is not a perfect document.
- If you don’t like the custody agreement then first ask for permission from your ex to follow another arrangement, get that agreement in writing and if changes in your life necessitate a change in the agreement then go to court and change it,
- Don’t pretend to be a lawyer and try to interpret the custody agreement for your ex you will only frustrate yourself. My ex has grossly misinterpreted our custody agreement as it pertains to Texas law. I made the mistake of falling down the slippery slope of arguing with him. I have since ceased doing that and basically told him if he can’t understand it, then talk to his attorney. It’s not that I don’t want to explain, I gave up out of frustration.
- Learn how to communicate before you learn how to compromise. If the other person is difficult to communicate with, learn how to accept that and move forward.
- Learn to sacrifice and adjust. You will not get to do everything you want to do and so you have to allow yourself to be ok with that. Don’t get personally attached to holidays, days or events. Those things don’t matter. The only thing that matters is the quality of time you spent with your kids. The world doesn’t need to see the proof on social media to know that it happened.
- Put things in writing. Pleading ignorance is something that many people like to do so make sure instructions are in writing. Certified mail, email is preferable over text. I have to do this with my ex’s but if you have an ex that you can actually communicate this would be overkill.
Obviously I am not a legal expert and if you need one then you should really try contact a legal professional that can help. I try to remind myself whether a decision I am making is really all about my “ego” and all about winning. We have one way of looking at our children and how they will be raised and our ex’s have their own opinions. Best thing to do is to keep an open mind and communication lines open.
Check out this handbook for coparenting and keeping track of visitation:
If you are in Texas, check out the State Attorney General’s Office has a website to help parents with visitation and access.