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Your Children Are Not Messengers When Co-ParentingCommunicating with your co-parent after a divorce can feel uncomfortable, even if you did not separate on bad terms. You need to stay in contact with each other to discuss issues related to your children. For some parents, having a child act as a messenger seems like a natural solution to the problem. After all, your child sees both of you regularly. However, any parenting expert will tell you that using your child as a messenger for your parenting discussions is unhealthy for them, no matter how old they are or mature they may seem.

Problems

Asking your child to deliver a message to your co-parent is forcing them to become a player in your co-parenting drama. You may think that it is benign to send a simple message, such as that you will be late in picking up the children next week. By tasking your child to deliver a message:

  • They receive your co-parent’s negative reaction to the news and perceive that the reaction is directed towards them
  • They are exposed to details of the conflicts between you and your co-parent that they should not know
  • They may forget to tell your co-parent and feel guilty about failing their task

In a similar vein to using your child as a messenger, you should not ask your child to spy on your co-parent and report back to you. You put them in the unwinnable position of either betraying their other parent or disobeying you.

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Posted on in Child Custody

Using Provisions to Strengthen Your Parenting PlanYour parenting agreement is the document that determines your rights and responsibilities as a co-parent, such as when the children will be with each parent and who has the authority to make parenting decisions. However, there are many other aspects of parenting that co-parents need to agree on. Adding provisions to your parenting agreement can clarify how you will raise your children and how you will make decisions with your co-parent.

What Are Provisions?

Provisions refer to the terms of a parenting plan that address decision-making responsibilities and parenting time schedules. It is best to wait until you have completed the basic structure of your parenting plan before you start adding additional provisions. Provisions in a parenting agreement are helpful because they can create:

  • Guidelines for how you will raise your children, which creates more consistency between the two homes
  • A system for when and how you will communicate with your co-parent
  • A process for making temporary adjustments to the parenting agreement when circumstances require it

Examples of Provisions

The provisions in your parenting plan can be as specific as you want, as long as they do not violate state parenting laws. Common examples of provisions include:

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How Apps Can Help You with Co-ParentingWith the popularity of smartphone applications, it is no surprise that there are several apps related to divorce. Among these, co-parenting apps seem to be the most common. There are apps that help you create a parenting schedule, communicate with your co-parent and even make child support payments. Many apps will require you to pay a subscription fee to use their most advanced tools, and you should thoroughly research an app before you decide to rely on it for your co-parenting needs. There are several ways that a co-parenting app can be useful to a modern, two-household family:

  1. Organization: Most co-parenting apps have a shared calendar feature. You could also use a basic calendar application that will not require any fees. A calendar app records your parenting schedule and can give automated reminders about when you are supposed to pick up and drop off your children. More advanced apps allow you to track and share child-related expenses, which is a helpful record when calculating child support payments.
  2. Communication with Your Co-Parent: For some people, talking to their co-parent through an app is less stressful than a phone call. Some apps are designed to help co-parents communicate with each other in an organized setting. A message through an app is less intrusive than a text message and easier to notice than an email. You may not be expecting an email from your co-parent but will know to check the app for messages. Some apps scan your messages for emotionally charged language and warn you before you send the message.
  3. Communication with Children: Your children need to know when they are scheduled to be with each parent, as well as have a safe forum to communicate with their parents. You may need to tell your child that you are running a little late, or your child may need to tell you about a change in their school or social schedule. You can communicate with your children through normal texting and phone calls, but using an app can help you both stay organized. An app also helps you separate your messages to them about your parenting schedule from messages that are purely social.

Contact a Kane County Divorce Lawyer

Apps can be useful tools during and after a divorce but are not a replacement for an experienced divorce lawyer. A St. Charles, Illinois, divorce attorney at Goostree Law Group can help you create your parenting plan and advise you when changes are necessary. Schedule a free consultation by calling 630-584-4800.

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Posted on in Child Custody

Can Divorce Make You a Better Parent?It is hard to see much bright side to your divorce when it comes to your children. They are justifiably upset about the breakup of your marriage and how that will change their lives. It is difficult to adjust to a shared parenting agreement that requires them to travel between two homes. On an emotional level, they have experienced the dissolution of your marriage first hand and may question the permanence of any relationship, including their relationship with you. If there is a positive for the children, it is that they no longer live in a home environment rife with conflict and tension. There is also a chance that you may become a better parent to them as a result of your divorce.

Attention

Your marriage may have distracted you from your parenting in ways that you did not realize. It is difficult to concentrate on your children when you are worried about your relationship with your spouse and what that may mean for your future. Being a single parent is more work, but you could be a more attentive parent as a result because:

  • Your spouse is no longer competing with your children for your attention;
  • You are responsible for all of the parental responsibilities when the children are with you; and
  • Parenting time is more cherished when it is limited.

Your responsibilities as a single adult may demand your attention at times. You will learn how to manage your time so that you are available to your children when it is their time to be with you.

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Protecting Your ChildrenThe equal right to parental responsibilities after a divorce assumes that the children will be safe with both parents. Unfortunately, some divorced parents put their children in danger because of their personal behavior and lifestyle choices, such as substance abuse or frequent partying. It is your responsibility to protect your child if you have reason to believe that your co-parent is a threat to your children’s safety. You may need to file a court order to change the allocation of parental responsibilities. However, you must present evidence of your co-parent’s dangerous behavior.

Forms of Danger

It is not enough to say that your co-parent has a drinking problem or behaves recklessly. You must focus on how your co-parent’s actions are putting your children in danger. There are clear ways to connect your co-parent’s irresponsible behavior with his or her parenting ability, such as:

  • Abusive behavior due to substance abuse;
  • Putting your children in a dangerous situation, such as driving under the influence;
  • Exposing your children to harmful influences; or
  • Neglecting your children.

Presenting Evidence

You may discover your co-parent’s irresponsible behavior by talking to your children or noticing a change in their own behavior or appearance. However, you may need more evidence to prove that your co-parent is a danger to your children. Consider the following factors:

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