California parents can take steps during and after a divorce to make the adjustment less difficult for their children. A healthy co-parenting relationship can be a big part of this adjustment. If parents are able to focus on their children and their best interests, they may be able to set aside animosity even after a contentious split.
A parenting schedule that specifies school or another neutral location for pickups and dropoffs can help minimize conflict between parents. Some parents may want to see a therapist in order to work through feelings of anger or other negative emotions. A parent coordinator may also be able to help. This is a professional, sometimes a psychologist or social worker, who can help parents resolve conflict. Parent coordinators may smooth out conflicts over different parenting styles or assist in resolving other disputes.
Parents should make an effort to be flexible about the schedule and other issues as needed. Each should encourage the child’s relationship with the other parent and avoid making negative comments. Even subtle behaviors, such as silence when a parent’s name is mentioned, can take their toll. Children may begin to feel they need to take sides. In extreme cases, a child may become alienated from one parent, and therapy could be necessary to repair the damage.
There are a variety of child custody arrangements that may work for parents and their children, and parents who negotiate one with the help of their respective attorneys instead of going to litigation might be able to work out a schedule that takes all their needs into account. If their children are older, they may also express a preference regarding the schedule. For example, if parents share custody, some children may prefer to spend a week at a time with each parent while others may not mind moving between households more than once a week.