“The children didn’t ask for this divorce” shared the premier plasterer who scheduled his work day around meeting the children at their buses after school, doing homework with all three of them at their Mother’s home until she returned from her corporate job. Access to children and visitation by divorcing parents after divorce doesn’t mean the old concept of alternate weekend visitations for the Father and dinner on Wednesday night. Divorcing parents may still see their children every day. This man started to take more slightly more responsibility for being with his children and for helping them with their homework, than he even had before the divorce, although he was always a very hands-on Dad.
Another Father, a CFO of his company, delivered the two children to school and picked them up five days a week. They did homework at the children’s private school, after school, had snacks, and were delivered to Mom’s house even on the alternate weeks when they didn’t live at his home. He actually had much more access to the children than their Mother which was fine with her at this very intense time in her career as a wealth manager. She had been the primary care-taker for the first years of the children’s lives.
One Mom left her home three nights a week, to attend classes, or visit with friends, while the children’s Dad came to her home, gave the children dinner and baths, and read them stories. The children spent Saturdays initially with Dad, and Sundays with their Mother. This schedule continued, except the baths, until the girls went to college.
Another family had Friday evenings together, including dinner, stories, and tuck-ins every week. They alternated having shabbat dinner at each of their homes on Friday evenings. Initially, after the divorce, the children’s home was with their Mother, in the big Victorian former marital home, but Dad came for story reading and tuck-in on alternate evenings. The parents alternated driving and being with their children at soccer, swimming, karate and music lessons. The children were these parents most important consideration in designing their divorce agreement.
Many parents are deeply frightened that divorcing and restructuring their families means there will be many days between those during which they will see their children. Except for business travel, most parents and children see one another daily before a divorce. The prospect of disrupting this schedule is terrifying to some parents, and at least upsetting to most. It doesn’t have to be that way. Parents can design creative schedules, especially initially, so that they and their children have almost daily contact with one another. They are used to daily access and they want desperately to keep it that way. Many men express great reluctance about moving out of and away from the marital home when they believe it means they will lose contact with their children.
When one parent has to move out of state due to a change in work assignment, the most frequent living arrangement schedule is for the children to stay living in their original home and live in the home of the moving parent during the summers and frequent holidays. Sometimes the parent who has stayed in the marital home even takes a small apartment in the new city or town to be near and do care-taking of the children during the summer.
Here at The Negotiation Collaborative, I work with each couple to custom design a flexible and comfortable living arrangement schedule for their children and for themselves. Where there is a will to frequent access to one another, there is a way!