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Written by Caroline Meyer

Being a single parent can be very challenging and the transition from a married couple to two single parents after a divorce, can be difficult. Just because the relationship between the two of you has broken down doesn’t mean you also stop being parents. While you have the opportunity to find alternatives to create happiness for yourself, you also need to take into the account the needs of your children. Active co-parenting can make things better for your children and you can interact with your ex-partner in a positive way for the overall good of the children.  

During the legal process of a divorce there will be many legal matters that have to be addressed including division of combined property and custody of the children. If you are not able to handle this amicably, you may want to discuss matters through a mediator or hire a legal professional to help you come to a compromise. As far as possible, try and work things out between you to keep things pleasant and also help reduce legal costs.  The main aim is to come to a compromise and ensure the well-being of the kids after all is said and done. Animosity between parents can have a detrimental effect on the children and even cause psychological scars that may require therapy down the line.  

It is important to keep your children in the forefront of your mind while going through the process. Do not discuss disputes between you and your partner with the children and do not bring them into any slanging matches. Maintain positive communication while in the company of the children to prevent a toxic environment in the home while you resolve things with your spouse. Discuss all parenting matters with your ex-partner as this should remain outside of any other considerations.  

Your children should be able to have a good relationship with both parents. Both you and your ex-partner can be supportive of your children and create a stable, healthy environment for them to grow up in, even if you are no longer together. If you co-operate with each other and ensure that you agree on the important things when it comes to raising your children, this is entirely possible. Not being in constant conflict in the home is more beneficial to the child than constant arguing and fighting between parents. Even if you are apart, you can offer a healthier environment than one that is full of tension and negative emotions.  Once the split is complete, it is important to communicate with the other parent in a positive way when it comes to the upbringing of the children.   

The current divorce process calls for a minimum of 12 months of separation before the divorce can proceed. This does not mean that you have to live in a different home, but this is usually what happens. Once this divorce application goes in, this can take a further 3 months or more before the divorce is finalised. This gives you 15 months before you are fully single and, in that time, you can start to look at positive co-parenting for the sake of children in the relationship. During the 3-month period after application for divorce, custody, property and other matters are settled. This can often be a rough time in the process and much vitriol may be spewed. Keep this private or in the lawyer’s office and not in front of minors. If the divorce is one-sided, you will need to attend a divorce hearing at the Court to ensure that adequate arrangements have been made for the children after the divorce process is finalised.  

When it comes to settling matters with regards to the children, the best outcomes come from responsible decision making between both parents. While you are both still responsible for the children, you will need to decide on custody, financial responsibility and more. Decisions such as these have long term impact on your children, so it is important that a lot of thought goes into these decisions.  

No matter what went wrong between you and your partner (unless there was domestic abuse or similar involved), you should do your best to continue with a positive parenting experience for your children even when you and your partner are no longer together. Your children will be the ones who thrive or wilt in the years following a divorce if you are not able to co-parent with your ex-partner. Keep it civil and create an environment conducive to happy, healthy children.

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