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Tips for Helping Children Through Custody Transitions

Divorce can cause a substantial upheaval in the lives of children. Understanding this, parents must work together to ensure their children feel as safe and comfortable as possible during what is truly a life-altering time. Although adults are capable of adjusting to these types of changes, children need routine and stability to thrive and mature into emotionally healthy teens and adults.

Talk to your children about what to expect

Above all else, your kids should have a realistic idea of what they should expect out of a new child custody situation. Give them a full calendar that shows when they will live in each home, when visitations will occur, when fun outings or afterschool activities will happen and anything else that is important to your children’s lives and routines.

Parents should also work to eliminate any potential for surprise. They should remind children in the couple days leading up to the transition to the other parent’s home that they are scheduled to visit or live with the other parent soon

Make them feel comfortable

Your children should have a space of their own — such as a bedroom they have for themselves or share with a sibling — in each home in which they spend considerable time. This is important, as they need a place where they can go to feel comfortable when necessary.

When you prepare to send your children to their other parent, consider sending along a stuffed animal or a photo of you to help ease separation anxiety. You should also have open conversations about any feelings they experience as they prepare to make the transition.

Finally, pay very close attention to how children act before and after every visit they have with the other parent. If they get anxious or upset at drop-off or pickup times, try adding a fun routine to help them relax. Persistent problems may be an indication that something is wrong at the other parent’s house, however, so you should be aware of that, as well.

For further tips about making custody transitions easier after your divorce, speak with an experienced child custody lawyer at Jakubowski, Robertson, Maffei, Goldsmith & Tartaglia, LLP.