Divorce with Kids: How to Set Things Up Now to Minimize Issues Later
Divorce is difficult under the best of situations, but when children are involved, it’s an entirely different ball game. It means that you and your ex will never truly be free from one another, and that, at least for so long as your children are minors, you will have to work together to promote your children’s best interests, even when you’d rather kick him in the shins.
In the best cases, parties find a way to work together, even though the marriage itself isn’t working out. Usually, these people try to negotiate a separation agreement to minimize the back-and-forth that would happen if the case were litigated in the courts.
Separation agreements, though, can be achieved in a number of different ways. Whether you go to mediation, hire a collaboratively trained attorney, or work together with a traditional attorney, you can draft a separation agreement to present to your husband. If your husband presents you with a draft of an agreement, it will save you the money it costs to pay someone to draft it—and you can still take it to an attorney to review before you actually decide to sign.
It’s a good idea to keep in mind that anything regarding the children—support, custody, and visitation—is always modifiable based on a material change in circumstances. Why does this matter? Well, for two reasons: (1) you’re going to want to draft an agreement that minimizes the possible issues that you and your child(ren)’s father will have to deal with later on, and (2) you’re going to want to keep things civil with your child’s father, because, even if you tried to use your separation agreement to plan for every eventuality, you probably will have to deal with each other again.
Minimize the issues
You want your separation agreement to be a forward-thinking document. So, if you’re dealing with support and custody for infants, you’re going to want to also include provisions that detail how custody and visitation will expand as the children get older. If you have a plan, from now till the time the children turn eighteen, there will be less of a chance that one or the other of you is upset or frustrated with the current arrangement and take the other to court out of desperation. If you’ve thought things through and you both feel like you’ve got a handle on what to expect throughout the years, it’s much more likely that you’ll be able to get along, minimize your disagreements, and concentrate on being good parents.
Keep things civil
If you don’t want every single little disagreement you and your child(ren)’s father have until your youngest child turns 18 to turn into World War 3, it’s a good idea to lay the foundation now. Tensions are running high, and both of you have different ideas about what you want out of the divorce. If you can keep things chill now, you stand a better chance of staying that way. Chances are that, over the years, things will happen that you couldn’t foresee years ago when you drafted your agreement. If you don’t want to litigate these things in a heated custody case, you’re going to have to take some responsibility for the way your relationship develops. Keep your child(ren)’s father in mind when you’re making decisions, and extend to him the same courtesies that you would expect to be extended to you. It will go a long way towards promoting harmony as the years go by.