Divorce is an emotional experience for every member of the family. Spouses on the verge of breaking up often make decisions from a place of anger, pain, and even fear. To ensure that child custody, visitation, and other matters are resolved in the best interests of the children, the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) created a practical guide to help parents make smart choices throughout the divorce process.
AAML Child Centered Residential Guidelines
The AAML Child Centered Residential Guidelines is a free PDF, available for download on the AAML website. The guide tackles what can often be one of the most difficult challenges parents face during a divorce, which is how to divide time spent with the children.
To help this process, the AAML guide includes professional advice, examples of different types of parenting schedules, and tips for creating a parenting plan that is good for everyone involved, yet always focuses primarily on the needs of the children. Experts in law, mental health, and psychology contributed to the guide to provide not only legally sound advice, but also real guidance for protecting the emotional health and well-being of children of divorce.
Several widely-used parenting plans are included in the guide, but the experts remind parents that every family situation is different. Before adopting one schedule, families should consider other factors, such as the child’s age, maturity level, relationship to each parent, and unique emotional needs. What works for one family may not be feasible for another.
The AAML guide also offers many different recommendations for helping children to thrive despite divorce. To create a parenting plan that focuses on the needs of the children, parents should:
Be courteous and polite to each other
Communicate frequently about children and any changes to the schedule
Discuss rules and boundaries for the children
Encourage regular contact between the child and the other parent
Exchange the children peacefully
Not interrupt the other parent’s visitation time
Never use children as pawns or force them to choose sides in parental disputes
Refrain from speaking negatively about each other
Uphold a predictable and similar schedule between both households
For younger children transitioning from one household to another, the experts suggest they carry a special keepsake or beloved stuffed animal between homes to encourage feelings of continuity, comfort, and security.
Divorce is a grown-up decision. Children should never be burdened by the legal and financial details of divorce. The experts agree that children who know they are more important than the conflict between their parents will be more secure and well-adjusted than those who are constantly subjected to fighting and turmoil. When parents work together to create parenting plans that focus first and foremost on the children, kids will emerge from divorce happy and healthy, with meaningful relationships with both parents.