Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Visitation agreements not all they are cracked up to be

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Visitation arrangements are settled during separation or divorce, and both parties agree to abide by them. You and your new spouse know that building your blended family is easier when you take care of your own relationship. Likewise, when you and your ex-spouse can agree that what is best for the children shall be the keystone of your co-parenting arrangement, the kids will be freed from constant wrangling and court appearances.

Getting along with your ex-spouse
With a divorce and remarriage in their recent experience, kids need to know they can really rely on you two getting along well enough to be parents; otherwise it can be really difficult for them to feel safe and secure, or trust that you will do right by them. Children often feel responsible when parents divorce, and having them fight about custody and visitation matters reinforces that belief.

Communication with your ex-spouse
Cooperative or not, you will always have to communicate with your ex-spouse about your children. When you do, regardless of whether he or she is cooperative or not, here are some guidelines for communication.

@Stay on message
@Stay cool
@Stay away from finger pointing and old arguments
@Keep going back to your point if the subject gets changed
@Keep it about the kids, and only the kids
@Keep it between the two of you; never ask kids to carry messages

In order of preference, the means of communicating with an ex-spouse is by email, texting, voice mail, telephone conversation, and only if all else fails, with a personal meeting. When you have a parental issue to handle, an email offers you the best opportunity to set the right wording and tone.

Make visitation work
If you remember that spending time with their other parent is for and about the children, not an accommodation to your ex-spouse, hassles and scheduling snafus take on less inconvenience and annoyance. Encourage your kids to have a great time and enjoy being with their other parent. Send no messages via the children. Have them ready for pick up if that is the arrangement, and make sure you are ready to receive them when they are dropped back home.

Your primary relationship
While it is important to have a good relationship with your ex-spouse, be sure to put your major efforts into your primary relationship: the one with your new spouse and the blended family you are building together. Visit The Blended and Step Family Resource Center for more information on how to make visitation agreements work.

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