Divorce situations are difficult enough with the two adults involved, but when a marriage dissolves and children have been born of the marriage, things can get even messier.
Custody and visitation will be one of the primary agreements that will have to be established, and coming to agreements on both is not always easy. Sometimes ex-spouses can reach an accord on their own, but for many people, legal intervention is required.
Going through divorce is very difficult for most people and details, such as who will live with the children and when can the non-custodial parent spend time with the kids is sometimes difficult to decide and/or schedule.
If you are in a situation where visitation has been established (especially if settled legally), this will be an ongoing event on a regular basis where your kids will be spending time with their other parent. Children often feel a bit hesitant about sleeping at or spending long amounts of time away from their home without their custodial parent. As the custodial parent it is often difficult to send children off with the ex.
Depending on how frequent the visitation is, kids may feel scared or nervous, especially in the beginning when a separation/divorce is still fresh. It will be up to the custodial parent to provide comfort to them and tell them they'll be OK when they are away from home and spending time with the other parent in a new place.
In a parental breakup situation it is often difficult to communicate with an ex, never mind get along with one another. However, for the sake of the children it is important both parents work hard to at least be able to talk respectful to one another and be open to communication. A concentrated effort will illustrate to the kids that things are all right.
Offering children firm reassurance that they'll be OK on their visit is important. As the custodial parent, the kids will take their cue from you and, if they feel secure in the fact that you are accepting of the situation, they will feel relieved and look more forward to their visit.
If your kids sense your fear, anger or hesitation due to any bitterness you feel, they will immediately pick up on this. It is vital you focus on reassurance and positive feelings when it comes to visitation so they'll be more comfortable when they arrive at your ex's.
Be Available for Kids to Call You
Just because your children are with your ex doesn't mean you can't have contact (unless a court for some reason stipulates this, which would be unusual). Make sure you are either at home or have your mobile on at all times so they can call you if they feel they want to talk to you.
When kids feel nervous on visitations it sometimes does them a world of good just briefly touching base with their custodial parent. Your availability is one of the best ways you can help your kids transition to the time they'll be staying with your ex. Let your ex know you are available if the kids want to make a quick call home.
It is important to be sensitive when talking about visitation so your kids don't feel afraid. Sometimes when adults have conversations with others children are listening a lot more than you think and may not understand and have the wrong takeaways from any details overheard. If your kids are anywhere in the vicinity it is always important to be tactful when discussing visitation.
If you are negative, bad-mouthing and show animosity to your ex this will rub off on the kids and impact the time they visit with their other parent. It is best to avoid putting them in a situation where they feel angry or afraid. It is important to be diplomatic where visits are concerned; you'll want the kids to feel visits with your ex are a positive and good thing.
[ Related Reading: What Kids Need to Know About Divorce ]
When to Get Intervention
If your ex is truly a neglectful or abusive person, you'll need to get court intervention. However, if your split was due to other differences which have no bearing on your former partner's ability to be a good parent, then it is important to "up" talk your ex so your children want to go visit; this will also ensure they have a good time too.
It's in the kids' best interests they have a good time when spending time with a non-custodial parent.
On the other hand, if there are significant problems in your ex's household which have negative and unhealthy effects, this will need to be addressed for the well-being of your children. In that case it may be wise to talk to your children's court-appointed law guardian or another lawyer specializing in family law. He or she can evaluate the situation and advise you on how to proceed if visitations cause a lot of strife for your kids. Or if they are any inappropriate or dangerous situations, you'll want to see what legal options you have to follow to set parameters to keep them safe.
Dealing with visitation issues is often a rough patch that is difficult to deal with at first, especially when the divorce or separation is still very new and emotions are high. However, as time goes on and visits have become numerous your children will become more comfortable with each visit if you approach the situation with sensitivity and tact. The break up of a family is never easy on anyone and it takes some times to get adjusting to this new situation.
The best way you can help your kids while they are with your ex is to be there for them, even when you aren't physically there. They'll have your words, memories and a voice over the telephone, if needed. Your being there for them on a daily basis will be an important source of support even during the times they aren't with you.
[ Related Reading: How to Stop Your Ex From Turning the Kids Against You ]