If I divorce will I lose my bond with my children?
When your marriage is just not working, and you have children, you can find yourself at a difficult crossroad. If you stay, your kids could grow up in the same home with you but also watching you and your spouse in an unhappy and even conflictual relationship. If you leave, you could end up seeing your kids less and be less involved in their daily lives. In this situation, you may fear that divorce will mean losing your connection and bond with your children.
Wisconsin law favors child placement or custody arrangements which allow both parents frequent contact with their children. Every family is different, but generally, kids need stability and consistency to thrive. What this looks like as far as a placement schedule can vary from family to family depending on the age of the kids and living arrangements of the parents post-divorce. Many parents seek 50/50 placement (called substantially shared placement) in an effort to maximize their time with their children. This could mean sharing the kids every few days, or from week to week. These types of arrangements work best when there is amicability and flexibility, and can otherwise be hard on children when there is not. Younger children may be better served in a primary placement situation, in which one parent has more time during the school year to minimize the back and forths, and the other parent gets more time in the summer to even out those lost days. Again, flexibility is key, since all things child-related can vary from day to day.
When you cannot be with your children, it can feel as if they are worlds away. Kids grow up fast, and even the most minute life experiences can seem major in your eyes. While having your scheduled time together cannot substitute for sharing everyday experiences, you can make being together meaningful. Although children love their electronic devices, and this is a great way of staying in touch when you are apart, when they use them too much during visits you can miss out on valuable time together. When you are with them, try to make your experience about being interactive with one another. You could engage in activities such as going for a hike or playing a board game. Another way to connect is by setting a rule of no electronics during meals. By making an effort to connect, you can help strengthen your bond.
While you may not have a choice about being away from your kids, you can develop ways to remain in contact. For instance, you could have regular face time, Skype, text, or calls with one another. You could also send a subscription item to your child such as a book of the month which can serve as a reminder that you are thinking of them. If they are not reading age, you could read to them over a video call.
Being There Whenever Possible
When your children have extracurricular events, school parties, ceremonies, or other activities, there may be numerous opportunities to see them even when it is not your placement time. If your schedule allows, you could volunteer in the classroom or to coach his or her sports team. Being involved will not only give you more time with your child but shows them that you are interested in their lives and committed to being there for important moments. This will make a huge difference in the eyes of your child.
Adjusting to life with your children on a schedule is not easy, but there are ways you can support your relationship and maintain your bond with one another. Attorney and mediator Karyn Youso has extensive experience in family law, helping clients evaluate their placement schedules and plan for the future. Contact us today to take a “first look” at your situation.