After decades of experience with California Family Law and as Certified Family Law Specialists with child custody and family law issues here in San Diego it might be helpful to share a few tips on how to protect your own children’s interest when they visit the other co-parent after a San Diego divorce.
Some of these suggestions may seem counter-intuitive as a parent, but maintaining your rights as a co-parent under California Family Law is about what is in the best interests of the children. For example:
Avoid telling your child(ren) how much you will miss them when they visit with the other co-parent after a San Diego divorce
Children of divorce feel a lot of pressure to keep both of their parents “happy” after a divorce, and telling them how much you’ll miss them (which a child understands to be how unhappy you are that they are gone) puts more pressure on the children as they will worry about you and how unhappy or alone they may perceive you to be while they are gone. An alternative would be to tell them to have a great time and how much you look forward to seeing them next time.
Don’t Ask Questions About What Was Said While They Were Visiting the Other Home
Children are much more aware of things than we often give them credit for, and asking these types of questions may make them feel manipulated, or that you are prying. Divorce is hard enough without making a child feel like they are in the middle, or that you might be trying to get them to divulge information. Remember that your children want both of you to be happy, and don’t need or want to be put into the middle of adult games.
DO Encourage Them to Have a Great Time
Encourage your child(ren) to have a great time at the other home, and reassure them that you will be fine. Don’t begrudge them if they are unable to take a call while they are over at the other home, or make them feel guilty because they didn’t check in with you or try to talk to you in between. Texting, e-mail (with older children) or a video conference should always be available for communications with a child when they visit the other co-parent after a San Diego divorce. This is a best practice.
Controlling behaviors such as preventing a child from communicating with the other co-parent can be perceived as an attempt at parental alienation and can affect your own co-parenting rights.
Divorce is a traumatic experience for the kids, and regardless of what is happening at the other home you want them to feel your love, and continue to build a strong relationship based upon mutual trust and support. Extending that respect and support to your child after a divorce enhances your own relationship with your kids.