Don’t let your divorce interfere with your child’s best interests
Extra-curricular activities, sports in particular, are effective tools for character development in children and youth. Most parents see the value in their kid being part of a team or exercising the discipline it takes to participate in sports. Unfortunately, when a child’s schedule is disrupted by their parents divorce, these integral activities may get put on the backburner or worse, cause additional conflict between co-parents.
“A challenge co-parents often face is when one supports having a child participate in… extracurricular activities, but the other does not. Courts generally don’t want to get involved in these day-to-day parenting decisions. It’s usually agreed that both parents should support what is important to the child, and it’s far better to work this out with your child’s other parent than to have some stranger in a black robe dictate what is best for you and your family,” says Bay State Parent magazine. The article goes on to say:
“Generally speaking, it is in a child’s best interest to be involved in extracurricular activities, to develop skills, and give them the confidence that comes with success and failure, as well as building relationships with peers.”
No matter what stage of divorce you are in, your child’s best interests should be the top priority.
There are several other factors that may come into play when determining how you and your ex will handle extracurricular activities.
- Are both parents supportive?
Sometimes one parent is more enthusiastic about a particular sport than the other. If it is something your child truly enjoys or is beneficial to their development, both parents should at least show support. This is a good time to put aside personal feelings, compromise with your ex if necessary and allow your child to have a positive experience. HelpGuide.org offers this advice, “It’s okay to be hurt and angry, but your feelings don’t have to dictate your behavior. Instead, let what’s best for your kids—you working cooperatively with the other parent—motivate your actions.”
- Who is going to pay for the activity?
If the parenting plan is not finalized, it may be a good time to negotiate the financial details of your child’s sports activities. These agreements can often be renegotiated at a later date or if circumstances change, but you’ll need to know who is paying for what – or if you’re splitting the cost, who is handling the payment – so that your child doesn’t miss out on participation because things slipped through the cracks.
- How will participation in the sport affect your child’s time with each parent?
If practice times are always during the child’s stay with one parent, the child custody schedule may need to be adjusted. The time spent with each parent doesn’t necessarily have to be equal, but it should be fair and adequate for building and maintaining a positive relationship. Since time with each parent is already significantly reduced after a divorce, it may be tempting to resist allowing your child to participate in sports, because they do often require a significant amount of time and commitment. However, continued participation in sports can give a sense of consistency and provide a support system for your child. There may be times when rest and a break from the busyness is necessary, but discuss this with your child ahead of time to prepare them for the transition. If your child is expressing a need for more time with one or both parents, consider ways that you can make yourself available that doesn’t require your child to quit their activities.
- Can we attend the same events?
Every kid wants their parents to attend their sporting events – to see all of their hard work and effort in action. There is no better time to set aside your differences than to show your child support and encouragement by attending their events. As the adults, these events can be a great opportunity to model respect, courtesy and tact by relating to your ex with civility and composure. TheEveryGirl gives these tips for remaining civil with an ex:
- Don’t bad-mouth them
- Keep the conversation simple
- Involve others in the interaction
- Remember your boundaries
- Let the past go
Whether you are having a difficult time creating your child custody plan in the midst of a divorce, or you feel it’s time for a change to the current schedule, a family law attorney can advise you of your rights and responsibilities and provide a legal assessment of your situation. If you are in the Huntsville area, The Alabama Law Group is here to help. We offer compassionate, professional counsel to those dealing with divorce, child custody and child support issues, as well as other family law matters. You don’t have to go through it alone, contact us today!