One of the biggest challenges in divorce, particularly for fathers, is determining how much time each parent will spend with their kids. As a society, we’ve evolved to a place where we understand it’s good for children to spend time with their fathers as well as their mothers. In Texas, that expectation is baked into the Texas Family Code. Many divorce decrees in the Lone Star State follow the default guidelines in the code, which allots parenting time to both parents, and some even lay out 50/50 arrangements.
For all the divorced dads out there, that’s an encouraging landscape to parent in — though, depending on how your decree is set up, you might find yourself wanting more time with your kids than you get. On this Father’s Day weekend, we absolutely understand that, and if you feel that you should get more parenting time than you’re actually getting, one of our lawyers can meet with you to talk about what’s possible.
Of course, though, you should also think about how to make the time you are spending with your kids now the best it can be. We happened upon an interesting and thought-provoking article from Fatherly called “7 Rules All Divorced Dads Need to Follow.” While we’re not here to dispense advice, several of the “rules” detailed here are good to keep in mind whether you’re in the midst of a divorce or you’re adjusting to your new role as a post-divorce father.
The first tip is “don’t go it alone,” and that’s certainly advisable during a divorce. In a divorce, you want to have legal consultation even if you’re attempting a “kitchen table” divorce negotiated between yourself and your soon-to-be ex. You also want to have a counselor, psychiatrist, or another type of mental health professional to help you through the emotions that naturally come with divorce.
The article made an interesting point worth heeding — you might be fine at the outset of a divorce, but something down the line might create new discord. If you find yourself in disagreement with your ex, and the decree doesn’t seem to have the answers, you might have to look into modifying it, or you might need some sort of go-between to help you and your ex to agree on what’s best for your children.
The article also points out that you shouldn’t dish dirt about your ex, no matter how frustrated you might be. One divorced dad is quoted in the article observing, “One of the best pieces of advice I ever received about children is that on some level they understand that they are a split of their parents and when you disparage one, you are disparaging your child.” That’s good food for thought — and, again, a reminder that if you’re struggling with frustration or other emotions post-divorce, it might be a really good time to seek out counseling for some self-care.
One more thing you can take away from the article: The final point of “listen to your children” is essential, as you’re trying to figure out what they need from you. A mediator quoted in the story advises,
Kids may say they’re fine but it’s important to give them attention and make sure any thoughts or feelings they are having don’t get lost in the shuffle. The kids are stakeholders in the divorce as part of the family and are entitled to know certain things. They will feel important and valued if both parents share some details and sharing with them can encourage them to share what they are feeling as well.
You want to do that in an age-appropriate way, of course, but being upfront and showing concern — and again, being careful not to play the blame game with your ex — can go a long way to your kids feeling valued and being reassured that they’re not to blame for the divorce — which is a feeling some might have despite past reassurances the both of you might have tried to provide.
From this father-friendly family law firm, which looks at what’s in the kids’ interest and will advocate for dads, we want to wish all of you out there a Happy Fathers’ Day and know that you deserve to have the parenting time needed to be involved in your children’s lives.