Separation And Custody-Navigating With A Young Child
Separation and custody-Making the decision to get a divorce is not an easy one, especially if you have a young child.
Just like you, your child will need time to adjust to the changes that divorce can bring. You and
your partner are going to have to learn how to parent with one another even if you don’t want to.
Shared custody will be a challenge for both of you, but it may be what’s best for your child. If
you’re not sure how to navigate this new chapter in your life, then check out these tips for
handling divorce with a young child.
Approaching Separation and Custody with your child
Divorce is a heavy topic that you may find difficult to discuss with a young child. Young children
can struggle to understand what it means for their parents to separate. The best way to break
the news is to sit down together as parents and calmly explain the situation. When telling your
child about your divorce, take into consideration their age and comprehension skills. Try to use
words and phrases that your child will recognize, but won’t frighten them. Although it may seem
cliche, reassure your child that your divorce is not their fault, as children can harbor a lot of guilt
over parental separation. Prepare your child for the changes that will come as it affects them,
such as a difference in living arrangements or time with each parent. However, remind them of
the things that won’t change to bring them comfort during a difficult transition. Be sure to listen
to your child so that you can better understand their emotions during this time.
Separation and Custody What you can expect
It’s hard to predict how your child will react to your divorce, but there are ways you can be
prepared. Many young children show signs of anxiety and depression following their parents’
separation. Some children may regress into infant-like behavior such as thumb-sucking, using
baby talk, or throwing temper tantrums. Other behavioral issues to look for include irritability and
non-compliance. Understand that these actions come from a place of fear and your child is
possibly struggling with their emotions. Typically this type of behavior will go away on its own if
you address it with care, but if your child is still struggling, you may want to seek additional help
from a therapist. Some young children might blame themselves for the divorce, causing intense feelings of
stress. Along with reassuring your child that it is not their fault, do not fight with your ex-partner
in front of them. Learn how to communicate effectively with one another to show your child a
healthy co-parenting relationship. Your child may also have difficulty accepting that you and
your ex won’t be reconciling. When these feelings arise, be sure to communicate with your child
that things have changed, but you both still care about them.
Understanding your child’s needs
The divorce process can be messy, but it’s important to keep your child’s needs first. No matter
how you feel about your ex, you should never speak badly about them in front of your child.
Ultimately, they are an important part of your child’s life just as much as you are and you don’t
want to negatively affect their relationship. Putting aside your differences will make the process
much easier for your child. Determine how you will share custody in a way that keeps your child
at the center of decision-making. If you can, avoid uprooting the child and turning their life
upside down. Even though they are young, children can struggle with a change in their routine.
The best way to work through these changes is by easing the child into their new life. Taking
baby steps with your ex and putting your child’s needs first is vital to their well-being.
Moving into a new home
Depending on custody agreements, you and your child may need to move into a new home.
Moving can be stressful for a child, especially if they’ll be living in two different homes. Approach
the situation with a positive attitude to ensure that your child will feel the same. Since your child
will inevitably spend less time with their other parent, they will struggle to adjust to a new living
situation. To make your child more comfortable, be sure that they have frequent communication
with their other parent, especially if they are emotionally bonded.
Before making the move, make sure that you are legally allowed to do so. Some states require
parents to live within a one-hour drive for shared custody and visitation. Besides legal reasons,
it may be beneficial for your child to remain close to each parent for their mental well-being.
However, relocation is based on a case-by-case scenario, so it may not be in their best interest
to be close to the other parent. If you’re choosing to relocate, then you need to be prepared
financially as well. When buying a new home, you need to make sure that you meet the
credit score qualifications and have enough money for a down payment. These factors can determine
where you’ll move to and the type of property you can afford.
Making shared custody easier
Sharing custody with your ex doesn’t have to be a challenge. Co-parenting can be the key to
meeting your child’s needs and establishing healthy relationships with both parents. Essentially,
both parents play an active role in the daily life of their children. The best way to make co-
parenting easier is through communication and cooperation. Start by sitting down with your ex
to discuss custody, rules, and schedule to avoid future disagreements. Although you may have
different parenting styles, it’s important to maintain cohesive rules in each home for consistency.
When it comes to switching between homes, it’s vital that your child feels comfortable with the
process. Remind your child a few days before their visit so that they may start preparing. Be
sure to make the transition positive and exciting for your child. If you’re openly unhappy with
them going to your ex’s place, they’ll pick up on that energy and be just as unhappy. Put your
feelings aside to make the co-parenting experience easier for your child.
At the end of the day, your child is your priority, which is something that you and your ex should
agree on. Having separated parents can be stressful for a young child, especially if they don’t
get along. The best way to navigate separation and custody is through communication and
understanding, along with putting your child’s needs first. If you find yourself struggling to co-
parent with your ex, then you may want to seek further counsel to ensure that your child grows
up happy and secure.