Parents going through a divorce have a number of important concerns to prioritize during this time, primarily the wellbeing of their children. As you and your soon to be former spouse go through the divorce and custody arrangement process, it is important that you keep in mind the potential hardships your children face during this time.

Children of divorce often experience a challenging adjustment period during and after the process. From the very beginning, parents can work to minimize the potentially harmful effects of a contentious divorce and custody arrangement. Consider some key reminders as you begin this process with your family.

Create an effective parenting plan

Long before the custody arrangement process begins, your family’s dynamics will enter a state of flux. As soon as you tell the children about a divorce, there are many aspects of their lives and yours that become subject to change. Before you have this conversation, consider working with your partner to devise an initial parenting plan as you go through the divorce process.

Parenting plans are effective tools for divorcing couples, but only when both parties choose to follow abide by their guidelines. In California, a custody and visitation agreement is the formalized, court-approved version of your family’s new plan for the important elements of the child’s life. While the plan may change before its final version, plotting an initial plan when you choose to separate can start things off on a positive note.

Utilize resources for co-parenting

Many former couples effectively manage their shared parenting responsibilities, but there is no foolproof guidebook for how to do it yourself. Every family needs its own strategy for co-parenting, but there are some comprehensive tools to consider as you begin this new dynamic.

Websites and apps designed for co-parents allow for an all-inclusive and accountable system for sharing parental responsibilities. Our Family Wizard, 2Houses and Cozi are some of the popular options for parents to coordinate schedules, expenses, communication and more in one platform.

These tools also prevent parents from putting a child in the middle as a messenger or mediator. Parents need to understand the potential negative impacts of burdening children with the task of communicating on behalf of each parent or otherwise ending up in the middle of a contentious situation. Former spouses need to find more productive solutions for managing co-parenting that don’t place an additional undue burden on children.

As you go through the divorce and child custody process, consider the ways in which you can lessen the burdens on children during this time. There is no surefire way to prevent all negative impacts of a divorce, but parents can do a great deal to minimize the effects on children through thoughtful planning.