Your divorce can be a complete no-fault solution to even the worst marital woes. But if you have kids, custody will still be an issue. While many states still favor the maternal side up to an 80% lean, many districts in Michigan courts encourage a co-parenting or joint custody solution whenever possible. Even when it’s not possible, Michigan is one of the more progressive states regarding awarding paternal custody. Nonetheless, this isn’t always possible, and many fathers still miss out on their children’s daily lives, especially when parental relations are strained to the point that they simply can’t work together for the welfare of the kids. Fortunately, there are some simple tips for maintaining good relationships with your kids even when you have limited visitation.
Minimize Conflict with the Mother
Hard feelings between you and your ex are normal during and after a Michigan divorce. But your kids must come first in custody or visitation situations. Many states try to split custody between the parents, but that’s not always possible. Regardless, Michigan courts always heavily encourage both parents to maintain close relationships with their children after the legalities are formalized. So saddle the pride for the kids and figure out a way to be civil to their mom.
Agree to Rules and Parenting Strategies with the Other Parent
If you’ve been an active parent in the past at all, chances are you noticed your marital household had rules the kids had to maintain. Those rules shouldn’t change or adjust drastically just because the parents had relationship issues. But just as women and men differ, discipline, punishments, and rewards can vary drastically between the parental households. The best way to maintain structure here is to develop mutual rules and strategies or at least compromise.
Know Your Child’s Schedule and Be Present
From sports to band and dates to bedtime, both parents should strive to know their children’s daily and weekly schedules. This is obviously much easier for the custodial parent, but it’s certainly not overly difficult for a father with limited visitation. All it requires is a little forethought, organization, and planning. Call your kids and always ask about their day, their homework requirements, friend hangouts, and other items of interest to ensure they know you care outside of scheduled visitations.
Keep a Consistent Visitation Schedule
Even if it doesn’t seem like it at first, your kids will want and need to see you consistently. And you should make those visits a priority, regardless of the moods of the day or week. Skip, postpone, or forget a visit and it’ll act like a slap to the little ones still trying to sort out their own feelings. If enough slaps build up, they may stop caring about those visits altogether. And depending on the ages involved, Michigan courts may listen, adjust, or cut your already limited visitation options.
Avoid Being the “Fun” or “Vacation” Parent
It’s easy to get into an entertainment trap when you have limited time with your kids. All of a sudden, everything needs to be fun, exciting, and memorable because how else will you ensure they continue loving you? But that’s a spark that turns into a forest fire in no time. It can cause issues with the custodial parent when the kids return and have to do “boring” stuff like homework and chores. It can also lead to unrealistic expectations and complications when their desires extend your means. The occasional splurge or treat is great and part of happy parenting. But don’t go overboard… at least not if you don’t want your ex to run to their Michigan divorce attorney with the request to limit visitation even further.