Establish Healthy Boundaries During Separation
The transition from being married to being divorced is not an easy one. You are still technically married but may be living apart from your spouse, and household items are beginning to be divided. Children may begin spending time with both parents separately. There is no perfect way to execute a separation but experts agree that creating healthy boundaries and rules at the beginning of the process can prevent conflict later in the divorce proceedings.
Be Proactive Instead of Reactive
The best way to avoid conflict with your soon-to-be-ex is to establish rules and boundaries from the very beginning. Sit down with your spouse in a quiet, neutral location and discuss your situation, writing down notes as you go. Consider issues such as:
- Under what circumstances does a spouse have permission to enter the other spouse’s residence? It is always better to double check before stopping by at your spouse’s residence, even if many of your personal belongings are still there. Tension is high, and surprise visits may create unneeded stress;
- Will the locks be changed or will both spouses have a key to both residences? Some couples choose to keep keys to the other residence for emergencies, while others do not. Whichever the case, experts generally agree that spouses should knock and wait to be invited into their ex’s home. This creates a feeling of safety and independence for both parties;
- How long does the nonresident spouse have to collect their personal items? Neither spouse should destroy or sell property belonging to the other spouse. Arrange a timeline that is fair to both of you;
- If there are children, never ask them to be intermediaries in your separation. Children should not be asked to report on what the other parent is doing. They should not be responsible for retrieving items out of the marital residence which belong to the other spouse;
- Speak kindly about your ex in front of your children. Do not expect children to be your sounding board to listen to your frustrations about their mom or dad. Talk to a trusted friend or counselor instead;
- Agree on drop off and pick up times for the children. Try to be on time when picking up or dropping off the children and if you are running late, let the other parent know via text or a quick phone call. This arrangement may change once the divorce is finalized, but for now, be flexible and respectful with your parenting time schedule; and
- Do not speak for the other parent or make plans on his or her behalf. For example, if a child is invited to a birthday party which falls on the other parent’s weekend, you cannot commit to the party. Tell the child that the decision will be up to the other parent.
Once you have decided on the rules for your separation, you owe it to your spouse and your children to comply with them. The entire process can be made much easier with a little communication and cooperation between the adults.
A Skilled Lawyer Can Help
If you are considering a divorce and would like to more about setting appropriate boundaries along the way, contact an experienced DuPage County family law attorney. We will help you analyze your situation and make the best decisions for yourself and your children. Call 630-665-7300 for a confidential consultation today.