equal parenting after divorce

Why Equal Parenting Time After Divorce Should Be The Norm

equal parenting after divorce


Not every circumstance occurring in our culture should be subject to an election as if it were a constitutionally guaranteed choice; some conditions are, to the contrary, an inalienable right, such as a child’s right to each parent equally after divorce.

I had intended for my next article to be a definition of the Parental Alienation Syndrome, but that will have to be momentarily deferred. I felt the necessity to comment, instead, the shared parenting law in Arizona, and I must extend my accolades to Mike Espinoza for his indefatigable and self-divulging efforts to facilitate its passage. Being neither a politician nor a mental health professional, Mike took up the cause as a loving, dedicated, and supportive father who had become a victim of the PAS.

Why Equal Parenting Time After Divorce Should Be The Norm

When we select a partner it is generally on the basis of what my mentor, child psychiatrist Salvador Minuchin, labeled as “complementarity.” In non-professional terminology, it is how we each balance our strengths and weaknesses with those of our partner.  In other words, we tend to select a partner who compensates for our weaknesses, and they likewise do the same.

It is, therefore, logical to conclude that the most appropriate decisions affecting children are arrived at when the parents do so collaboratively, with each parent drawing on their respective strengths and abilities. Neither parent must feel that he/she surrendered to the other parent’s will because the struggle to reach an accord became too great.

In my 17 years of practice as a family therapist, I have documented a wealth of anecdotal evidence that confirms that parental collaboration almost always facilitates the child’s optimal development and achieves the desired results. The post-divorce situation most assuredly requires the same parental collaboration so that the child continues to benefit from the strengths that had been provided by the parent who becomes the nonresidential parent.

Regrettably, however, this collaboration is undermined by our adversarial approach to the resolution of child custody.  Sole custody tends to be more the norm rather than joint custody; and even in those situations when joint legal custody is awarded, the residential parent often usurps with impunity the authority of the other parent. And, of course, this selection is predicated upon having to make a choice as to who would presumably (and I emphasize presumably) be the better parent.

Despite the obvious benefit of parental collaboration to children, which the research is now supporting, shared parenting is not without its critics and controversy. For example, the Arizona Foundation for Women CEO, Jodi Ligget, qualified the applicability of the law to those parental relationships that have minimal conflict.

She further asserted that the basis for custody decisions ought to be determined by the standard of the best interests of the child. But as this author/therapist stated in her prior article, I maintain that marginalizing one parent while elevating the other cannot achieve the best interest of the child, except in those situations of substantiated serious social deviancy and/or mental illness of one of the parents.

Yet other skeptics of the law have argued that, if the parents were capable of engaging in a collaborative co-parenting relationship, they would have sought out mediation rather than litigation.

Let me respond to this criticism by drawing on the wisdom of my sociology professor, Edward Sagarin. It was 1965, and the class was debating the implementation of the recently enacted Civil Rights Act. One of my classmates offered the following analysis, “You cannot legislate morality. Therefore, the legislation will fail.” Professor Sagarin responded, “You are correct that you cannot legislate morality. But the Civil Rights Act is not about morality; it is about behavior. And behavior can most definitely be legislated and can be enforced with the appropriate consequences.”

Professor Sagarin was very wise. We must be judiciously selective, even though our government is a democracy, as to when it is appropriate to provide its citizens with a choice. The Bill of Rights, for example, which was frequently invoked by Professor Sagarin throughout Sociology 101, protects minority rights from abuse by the vote of the majority.

Equal Parenting Time After Divorce How novel!

I am advocating that there be no choice for sole custody or for primary residency. Such choices must be off the table, no option! We should deem, forthwith, that it be the child’s civil rights to an equal relationship with each parent.

When the child’s parents, who are generally quite law-abiding, rational citizens in all other aspects, engage in the destructive, adversarial behaviors that so frequently occur in divorce situations, it is only because they believe they can get away with such behaviors. And they usually do. Even the not-so-rational parent, who engages in alienating behaviors, is effective in achieving alienation because of the cavalier, indifferent, and/or self-interested professional who enables and emboldens her/him.

I am proposing, therefore that every child of divorce has the right to say, “I need and desire that the two most important people in my life continue to parent me collaboratively through shared parenting. I have a right to expect that you will subvert your animosity for each other to your love for me. Doing so will inevitably produce results which are in my best interest.”

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Why Shared Parenting After Divorce Is Optimal for Children

Why Shared Parenting After Divorce Is Optimal for Children

Studies have shown that children who dedicate 35 percent or more of their time to each with each parent have deeper bonds and a better relationship with both parents.

The post Why Shared Parenting After Divorce Is Optimal for Children appeared first on Divorce Magazine.


child stuck in the middle

2 Parenting Styles That Keep Your Children Out Of The Middle Of Your Divorce

child stuck in the middle


If you’ve been through a divorce or, you are thinking about divorce one of your main concerns will be how your divorce will impact your children. Study after study relates the ways in which divorce negatively impacts children. It’s no wonder parents worry about their children’s welfare based on common information about the subject of children and divorce.

Divorce can negatively impact children but there are ways to keep that from happening. You should know that the impact your divorce will have on your children dependents mainly on how you and your spouse choose to treat each other during and after divorce and, how you choose to parent.

Children who witness conflict between their parents during and after divorce or, feel as if they have been put in the middle of that conflict are negatively impacted by divorce. If you want your divorce to do little harm to your children, it’s your job to keep down conflict and keep them out of the middle of problems between you and your ex.

You may feel that conflict during divorce is unavoidable or the fault of the other parent, regardless of what you feel, it is imperative that you take the steps needed to keep your children from witnessing conflict and feeling stuck in the middle of two angry parents.

Below are 4 common ways children find themselves stuck in the middle of their parent’s conflict during and after divorce.

  1. When parents use their children as a messenger or a means of finding out information about the other parent’s home, dating life, and social activities.
  2. Negative comments about the other parent made by you, friends or family members.
  3. Sharing adult details about the problems between the parents. Details such as information about infidelity, legal divorce proceedings or the reason for the divorce.
  4. Garnering the child’s favor in an attempt to use the child to punish the other parent.
  5. Talking to the child about money issues. A late child support check, a lack of money needed to pay the rent…adult financial problems that children have no control over.

Steps parents can take to keep from putting their child in the middle of their conflict:

Divorce brings an end to your marriage, it doesn’t bring an end to your duties as a parent. One of those duties is to put a concerted effort into positively co-parenting with your child’s other parent. Below are a few suggestions that will help.

Choosing the parenting style that fits well for you and your ex after divorce

Parallel Parenting After Divorce

If there is a lot of conflict between you and your ex, parallel parenting is appropriate. Why? Parallel parenting allows each parent to remain a part of the child’s life while reducing the need for contact with each other. When parallel parenting, there is very little communication which, in turn, keeps down the conflict and protects the child from being impacted in a negative manner.

When parallel parenting, parents:

  1. Communicate through email, a third party or an app like Family Wizard to stay informed about issues involving the children. Discussions are strictly about the children and no personal issues between the parents. Use of a phone to communicate is only done in cases of an emergency.
  2. Schedules such as visitation, vacations and holidays are strictly kept. There is no negotiating for different days and times to keep down the likelihood of conflicts arising.
  3. There is a set residency agreed upon or ordered by the courts. When the children are in the care of one or the other parent in their residence neither parent interferes with social activities, routines or anything that takes place in the other parent’s residence.
  4. Neither parent has any influence over the other parent and how that parent chooses to spend time with their children. If one parent has an issue with the way the other parent is choosing to parent in their residence, the court is used to settle the issue.
  5. Parenting is treated as a business arrangement. Common courtesy is shown at all times and agreements are honored because the sole purpose of parallel parenting is to do what is best for your children.
  6. When communication or negotiation is necessary, parents can choose to have a third party involved to witness and if needed mediate and conflict that arises.
  7. Child support payments are filtered through the court or a child support collection bureau to keep down any possibility of late payment or conflicts of over payments.

Cooperative Parenting After Divorce

Cooperative parenting works best when there is low conflict between parents and the parents are able to work together for the sake of the children. With cooperative parenting, there is more flexibility when it comes to visitation schedules and residency issues.

When cooperative parenting, parents:

  1. Parents form a friendly business relationship that revolves around the needs of their children. A courteous and polite relationship is one that will go a long way toward making sure children have what they need from each parent.
  2. Parents are able to talk, face-to-face about parenting issues as they arise. They are able to stick to the topic at hand without becoming distracted by old relationship issues.
  3. They don’t expect praise or emotional support from each other. They realize that part of their relationship has ended. But, they are able to show empathy and to support each other during difficult parenting issues.
  4. Keep all discussions about parenting, visitation, schedules and such to themselves and don’t involve the children. They come to a firm decision, as parents, before involving the children in their decisions.
  5. Are able to, at all times, put their children’s needs above their needs and feelings. Their relationship with the other parent is strictly about what is best for their children.
  6. Are able to communicate via phone or in person without engaging in conflict.
  7. Child support checks are mailed directly to the parent receiving the support. Due to their business like relationship, they both understand the importance of meeting their financial obligations to their children.

Whether parallel parenting or cooperative parenting, it is important to remember that one method is not better than the other. Each method will result in lower conflict and, as a result, better parenting. And, that is your goal as parents, better parenting and keeping your child out of the middle of your divorce issues.

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How to Create a Successful Parenting Plan

How to Create a Successful Parenting Plan

A more comprehensive and detailed parenting plan will help parents avoid future battles so that parenting disagreements will not escalate into conflicts. Like a peace treaty, a good parenting plan cannot anticipate every possible conflict, but it can identify likely issues and provide a roadmap for handling issues that are not easily resolved.

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The Public Lie We’ve Been Told About Narcissism

Live from Belmont Library MA – The Public Lie We’ve Been Told About Narcissism WHY RETHINK NARCISSISM?


How do I prevent narcissism in kids?

Live from Belmont Library MA – What Is Authoritative Parenting? WHY RETHINK NARCISSISM? People ask, “Why rethink …


“Splitting Up Together” Shows Us the Pros And Cons Of Bird Nesting

“Splitting Up Together” Shows Us the Pros And Cons Of Bird Nesting

If you’ve ever considered bird nesting or just want to watch a TV show representing divorced family life, check out the ABC comedy Splitting Up Together!

If you’ve ever considered bird nesting with your ex following divorce, then Splitting Up Together on ABC is the “exhibit A” you need to consult to help wrap your mind around that concept! The show, which debuted this March under the care of producer, Ellen DeGeneres, is an American adaptation of a Danish TV show, and follows the story of Lena and Martin (played by Jenna Fischer and Oliver Hudson), parents of three young children.

For those of you not familiar with bird nesting, it is the practice of continuing to share a home with one’s ex after divorce. Unlike typical divorces where the children alternate between homes, in this situation, the kids remain in their home, and the parents rotate in and out. The children never have to vacate their own bedroom or familiar surroundings and only go without the presence of one parent at-a-time, according to their visitation plan.

Many of us couldn’t imagine continuing to be in that close of proximity to the one we divorced, yet many child development experts praise bird nesting as a creative solution to co-parenting because it causes the least disruption to the children when their parents can no longer be married. It may be a child-centric dream, but it’s hard to imagine the logistics of it for most situations.

In the case of Lena and Martin, they happen to have a garage which has been mostly finished into an apartment. It lacks in air conditioning and some of the comforts of the main home; but, allows the adults to have a place to live when it’s not their turn with the children. For divorced people like the Splitting Up Together duo who are fortunate enough to have a guest house, finished basement, or move-in ready garage, it’s not a bad idea.

What about the rest of us?

Very few of us could afford to rent a second residence for our off week, whether shared with our ex or not, while continuing to contribute to the rent or mortgage of the family home. Even fewer could afford to maintain two separate living quarters for our time away from the kids. Personally, I would have a hard time coming “home” to my ex’s bachelor pad after he’s had a week of sexcapades and pizza binging. He wouldn’t help maintain our home while we were married, so I certainly wouldn’t expect him to do so now, and I’m no longer game for picking up his pizza boxes and dirty socks!

Lena and Martin had ground rules in place about passing off each living area to the other, so we don’t see too much strife between them about messes and so on; however, some of the typical co-parenting frustrations exist such as inconsistencies between the two about chores and responsibilities of the children, discipline, and so on. The close proximity of their living quarters also creates uncertainty about when to involve the other about such things as a child’s fever or sensitive puberty issues.

Is it ever okay to just barge in the family home on your week off to ask a question or share a concern or bother them on their week off? What if she has a date staying over? What if he just wants to be trusted to take care of a situation himself? Some of these questions are the same for us no matter what our visitation arrangement, I, for one, like to think of myself as “on duty” whether my kids are with me or not; yet, I respect the fact that my ex has the right to individual time with the kids, just as I do!

One thing that becomes very clear about bird nesting from watching the show is the need for boundaries. In many cases, we need to know when to be flexible (such as when the heat of summer hit and the garage was no longer habitable, prompting the characters to agree to share the main house for the summer). In many other circumstances, it becomes necessary to define what is and is not acceptable to maintain peace, privacy, and the need for each member of the partnership to heal and begin to form their own identity as a single person.

Is bird nesting realistic?

I have always contended that once the co-parents begin to develop other serious relationships, the arrangement will become stickier. How many of our dates would want to bounce in and out of our two residences, and will new partners be allowed to stay in the main home with the kids? This situation would be awkward, at best, and something that would have to be carefully planned through. What happens if one of the parents eventually remarries and wants to reside with their new spouse full time? Will nesting even be a possibility anymore?

New relationships and dating are likely to be some of the most contentious issues faced by bird nesters, as demonstrated by Lena and Martin. Martin becomes jealous after witnessing a sexual encounter between his former wife and a new partner, and Lena lets her mind go wild with speculation after seeing a female regularly visit her ex in the garage. Nesting turns up the volume on feelings of jealousy or possible unresolved romantic feelings when dates take place in one’s own property instead of across town!

I don’t know any divorced folks co-hosting pina colada parties in the backyard, but maybe I missed my chance at the fun by not bird nesting. Time will only tell how well Lena and Martin weather the challenges of divorce, co-parenting, and bird nesting while continuing to shack up together. While bird nesting is something to consider, it is full of unique challenges that most co-parents do not have to overcome; therefore, anyone considering it has a lot to talk about in order to make it work!

Splitting Up Together makes post-divorce parenting look rather easy compared to what I know of most situations. Perhaps they’re more evolved as co-parents, but I suspect that some Hollywood magic and the fact that this couple probably just needed marriage counseling is what makes it work so well for them. The removal of some of the stress and expectations of married life seems to have created a newfound sense of appreciation for one another and regret for the loss of the marriage. There are some genuine issues that need to be worked through, but I have to wonder if divorce was ever their answer?

I have respect for anyone who can make nesting work, which is why I regret to say that, in my own life, I feel it would be a life sentence of dealing with the same issues that plagued my marriage and drove us to divorce. I predict that, in my own life, bird nesting would equate to an eternal prison of cleaning up after someone I can no longer stand and getting horrible sleep in a garage where I cuddle up to his power tools and the lawnmower. No thanks.

My personal jury is still out on the viability of bird nesting, but this show may change my mind on that as I watch the characters play out many more post-divorce situations. Meanwhile, I will continue to watch simply because it’s refreshing to see representation of a divorced family and all the issues we go through!


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5 Tips To Guide You Through Father’s Day After Divorce

Father's Day after divorceWhen you are first issued your divorce decree, it might not hit you how uncomfortable Father’s Day can be the first year after your divorce.

The major holidays are significantly more complicated after divorce and require careful planning to avoid conflict and hurt feelings. Father’s Day can be especially tough since this day in particular is supposed to be all about you.

Here are some tips to guide you through your first Father’s Day after divorce.

Talk to your ex

Ideally, your parenting time will fall on Father’s Day and you will be free to celebrate however you please. Sometimes, this is not the case and other arrangements must be made in order to accommodate any festivities you have planned.

She might be the last person you want to talk to, but it is worth reaching out to your ex to work out a plan. If Father’s Day does not fall on your scheduled weekend, ask her if you can work out a compromise. Offer to let her have the kids an extra weekend, so you can have them for the holiday.

It will help your case tremendously if you were cooperative on Mother’s Day. As with all aspects of co-parenting, working out holiday custody arrangements requires clear communication and flexibility.

If, for whatever reason, your ex tries to withhold parenting time from you on Father’s Day, you should get in touch with your family law attorney immediately.

Cordell & Cordell understands the concerns men face during divorce.

Be honest with your children

Previous Father’s Day celebrations were probably whole-family affairs. Adjusting to a more low-key holiday is going to be different for your kids as well, so be aware that they also might be dealing with some difficult emotions.

Acknowledge that Father’s Day feels a little different this year and let them know that it is OK to feel sad. You can admit that you are feeling a little down about things too. Make sure you reinforce that even though things are different, you and your kids still love each other.

Help them out with gifts

In years past, your wife probably helped the kids pick out a gift for you for Father’s Day. Depending on their age, your children might not know what to do now that Mom is not around to help out. This could be a source of anxiety for them if they are worried about you being disappointed on Father’s Day.

You might consider enlisting the help of a relative or close friend to help them figure out a gift idea. You can even supply them the money to pay for it. This is not about making sure you get a Father’s Day present but rather ensuring that you and your children are able to happily enjoy the day together.

Celebrate on a different day

The worst-case scenario is that you have to spend Father’s Day separated from your kids. In that case, just celebrate Father’s Day on a different weekend.

Just because you are celebrating on a day that is not designated as “Father’s Day” should not make the day any less special. The holiday is about acknowledging the special bond fathers have with their children, and that is something you should be able to celebrate on any day.

Take everything in stride

The most important thing to do on your first Father’s Day after divorce is to take everything in stride.

Keep in mind that the sad emotions you are feeling are entirely normal. It is OK to feel that way.

“It’s normal for a dad to be experiencing some sadness, some anger, some feelings of loss and just the sense that this isn’t what I wanted to have with my child,” said author, speaker, and teacher Laura Petherbridge. “Just knowing that those emotions are normal and that he’s not losing his mind or weird or something because he’s experiencing that is three-fourths the battle.”

Even if the day is a bummer, remember that it is just one day on the calendar. Even if you do not get the ideal Father’s Day celebration, the role you are playing in the lives of your children is crucial. Nothing can change that.

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divorced dads reestablishing trust

How Divorced Dads Can Reestablish Trust With Their Children

divorced dads reestablishing trustOne of the greatest challenges divorced dads face is the process of rebuilding trust and maintaining a positive, healthy relationship with their children.

As a father, your children tend to look to you as a source of protection and stability. When they see their parents argue and then divorce, that secure foundation is rocked.

Depending on the age of your child, they might blame you for the divorce and side up with their mother. That can be even worse if your ex-wife engages in the process of parental alienation, which should be considered a serious threat to the child’s overall well-being.

The period immediately following your divorce is a critical time for your relationship with your kids. Depending on the circumstances of your divorce, you might need to devote considerable time toward rebuilding a level of trust with them.

Here are several ways divorced dads can build back trust with their children.

Encourage open communication

It is important to be considerate of the emotional turmoil that your children have experienced and encourage them to talk about what they are feeling.

Repressing emotions is extremely harmful and can lead to long-term mental and physical health issues. Let your children know that it is OK to express whatever they are feeling. Be aware that this might mean you hear them talk about feeling anger towards you, but that is better than letting them harbor hidden resentment that festers.

You also should offer to answer any questions your kids have about your divorce. You do not necessarily have to tell them all the details about your breakup, but you should not be secretive either.

Your children might not feel comfortable discussing everything with you. They might feel like that means they are taking sides with you or their mother. If that is the case, you should consider whether your kids would benefit from seeing a licensed professional therapist or counselor who can help them work through everything they are going through.

It is important to be considerate of the emotional turmoil that your children have experienced and encourage them to talk about what they are feeling.
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Be a good co-parent

The major dilemma children of divorce face is that they love both of their parents, even though their parents no longer love each other. Maintaining strong, healthy relationships with both parents is a challenge due to the inherent complications of divorce.

This is problematic because having two active and engaged parents is the best way to offset many of the risks children of divorce face.

With that being the case, the onus is on you and your ex-wife to put your personal differences aside in order to find a way to effectively co-parent. This involves swallowing some pride and acknowledging that your children are better off having their mother involved in their lives, even if she is a person who has wronged you.

Good co-parenting requires clear communication, flexibility, and cooperation. Co-parenting takes effort from both sides, so you only have so much control if your ex is particularly disagreeable. If that is the scenario you find yourself in, consider parallel parenting, which is a high-conflict co-parenting model.

If you have done everything you can think of to get your ex to cooperate with you and she is still starting arguments and failing to live up to her end of the deal in your co-parenting arrangement, you should contact your family law attorney. An attorney who focuses on men’s and father’s rights can determine whether there are any legal remedies available that could improve your co-parenting situation.

Always keep in mind that co-parenting is about doing what is best for your kids. That should give you more than enough incentive to find a co-parenting system that works.

Cordell & Cordell understands the concerns men face during divorce.

Be engaged

You are now sharing custody of your children, which means it is critical to make the most out of the parenting time you do have. It is not enough to just spend time with your kids. You need to ensure that you are actively engaged and present every second you are together.

“Being present is really about how much of yourself you really give to your kids,” said Han-Son Lee, who runs DaddiLife, a website and community for modern dads. “We see a lot of parents who are sometimes on the phone and there physically in the same space as their kids but not emotionally or mentally there. I think being present is about really being there for our kids and making sure there aren’t those digital distractions and various notifications and beeps and buzzes so that way you can really be present in the time that is most necessary for Dad.”

This should not be an issue for most fathers. The latest fatherhood research tells us modern dads are finding new and creative ways to stay active in their children’s lives more so than previous generations of fathers ever did.

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