Things to think about before you start writing your parenting plan

Figuring out how to create a parenting plan can be daunting. There can be so many issues to think about, and figuring out what you even want can feel confusing. When you're already going through the emotional roller coaster of divorce, parenting plans can become overwhelming fast. Follow these simple steps to make sure you're writing a parenting plan that's thorough, accurate, and in the best interest of you and your family. Keep in mind that hiring a professional to assist you in this process is always advised. When parenting plans are only written and signed by the parties involved there can be important details overlooked and they are more vulnerable in court.

Start with the kids in mind

Keep a child-centered approach and think about your children's needs. Obviously, this is going to involve making sure their physical needs are met, such as shelter, clothing, and food, but also their more complicated needs. Think about doctor's appointments, sporting events, summer camp, or any other activities. If your child has special needs, think about any therapies, medications, or appointments they need.

Before you even start assigning care tasks, simply start by making a list of everything that may need to be delegated to one parent or another. That can include costs, transportation, filling out paperwork, taking them shopping, making dinner -- everything that your kids need, write it out.

Evaluate parent schedules

If your co-parent is on call for work 24/7, then having them take over transportation to and from appointments probably isn't going to be realistic for your family. If you work at 5am every morning, driving the kids to school probably isn't going to be in the cards for you. Establish the ways in which each parent is available, writing out the schedule and needs of each parent clearly.

Be honest with yourself about what is and isn't reasonable. It can be hard to admit you can't provide for your child for everything they need, but creating a sustainable parenting plan is going to rely upon both parents owning up to the ways in which they would need support taking care of your family.

Think through possible strategies and evaluate

Now that you have both the list about child care needs and the list of parent availability in front of you, it's going to be much easier to start thinking through possible care options. Start simply by brainstorming - don't worry too much about getting it perfect on the first go, just start writing down a draft of a plan to start working through it.

Keep reevaluating options as they come up and think of them through the lens of you, your children, and your co-parent. Some options may seem most convenient for you and your co-parent, but may not be in the best interest of your kids, and vice versa. For example, 50/50 custody with every-other-day custody can often seem like a simple solution for custody for a lot of parents. However, consider if that kind of option is going to work best for your kids. Having an inconsistent home environment throughout the school week can be really challenging for a lot of kids, especially younger children or children who struggle with attention, focus, and attachment. Consider alternative custody solutions, like a biweekly rotation or a 2/2/3 rotation so kids can spend more time at each household before switching again.

Make sure to cover the small stuff

It never hurts to include nitpicky details in your parenting plan. Create contingency plans for when something goes wrong. How would you like to negotiate a change in plans with your co-parent if one of you needs to reschedule or has an emergency? Do you have a plan in place for who will get the kids for special holidays, like Mother's Day, Halloween, or even spring break? Who is responsible for dropping them off at summer camp or picking them up from school when they're sick?

Look into family communication apps that are made to help people co-parent easily and simply. You can send information to and from each other, make schedule edits, and importantly, keep track of all communication in a single place. This is especially crucial for hostile divorces where keeping receipts of everything you and your co-parent say to each other is relevant to your divorce trial, but it's also handy to have for any kind of parental separation.

Get feedback

If you're working with an amicable co-parent who's willing to work together to create a parenting plan, this is a great time to let them take a look at the draft you're working on so far and see how they feel. As the both of you are still readjusting to being separated, they may have scheduling needs or financial concerns that you hadn't known to incorporate in your plan. Talk about possible solutions together and negotiate a plan.

If your divorce isn't amicable and you don't feel you can bring your draft of the parenting plan to your co-parent, your mediator or lawyer may be a great resource for offering advice on the parenting plan. Family mediators have lots of experience with parenting plans, and they may recognize a common pitfall in your current draft. They have plenty of experience and expertise - take advantage of their knowledge!

If you are dealing with a difficult situation and may not be able to communicate with your co-parent effectively, hiring a mediator can be extremely beneficial. Yes, it may cost time and money, but it WILL be worth it in the end.

Take your time and remember your goals

If you rush your parenting plan, it's not going to turn out the way that you want. Make sure to keep your primary goals in mind, keep calm, and put your kids first. Remember that you're doing the best possible thing you can do for your family; making sure you have a plan in place so that everyone can have their needs and goals met.

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New Year New You? Setting Goals and moving forward in the new year after divorce.

With all of this New Year, New You chatter, reach for the stars make 2020 your year! It is hard to take it all in when you are struggling. The New Year after divorce can be so difficult. Your first New Years alone… what do you do? This may be the first year you celebrate alone, as a single person. It may be the first where you don’t feel festive or celebratory. It may be the first year where you want to unleash and get wild. Whatever it may be, that’s OK. BUT, if you are more on the side of struggling and withdrawing, here are some great suggestions for how to make it through and come out the other side with a fuller heart and a little more power. 


  1. DO what YOU WANT to do. It is so easy to get roped  into stuff that you don’t actually want to do. Friends suggest you get out and YOLO, family suggests you come over for a quiet dinner, kids want to have a sleepover and a party. Whatever the case may be, DO YOU. It is so important to take care of yourself during this time, regardless of what others are suggesting you should do. 
  2. Plan ahead. A lot of the times, with the Holiday hustle bustle you forget to think ahead and pre plan for feelings. By doing this you can think about what you may be feeling and make the necessary plans or arrangements to deal with those feelings with the time and attention that they require. 
  3. Set goals. Create your vision. This is so IMPORTANT! The feelings and emotions that come along with this time of the year, especially the first year after divorce, can be so unmotivating. Where do you even start? Here is a step by step approach to starting to create you vision and your goals.
    1. Sit in a quote space with a notebook and visualize the best version of you. What do you look like, who is around you, where are you, what are you dressed like, what do you behave like, who loves you, who do you love back, how much money are you making (or not), how do you live how do you treat yourself and others, what kind of mother/father are you, what is your relationship like with the people you love, how do you behave so have those relationships, who are you in those relationships, what is your vibe, how do you take care of yourself… These are all examples of the details for your vision. Once you have your visions write it all down in your notebook. It can be in sentences or point form, whatever works for you.
    2. Break down that vision into 10 dreams. What 10 dreams need to come true for for that vision to be a reality? 
    3. From those 10 dreams and break them down into 1 goals. What can you do today to get started?  **If you would like to have more information about this, look into Rachel Hollis’ Start Today Journal. 
  4. Once you have your dreams and visions, create a vision board. This is a create way to spend time in silence, or listening to music while getting those creative juices flowing. The end result is a great visual that you can look at every day to remind yourself of where you are heading. 
  5. Create momentum just by starting. Starting can usually be the hardest part about all of this. Once you have your first goal, do whatever you need to do to just start. 

Hopefully these suggestions can help with the New Year, New You craze of the beginning of a new year, and new decade.

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Everything You Need To Know About Mediated Separation Agreements

man writing on paper photo – Free Office Image on UnsplashThe agreement you will receive at the completion of your mediation process is a legally binding document that will lay out everything that you have agreed to for now and in the future. Your agreement will be THE MOST important document for your separation. 

Your mediator can and will write up your mediated separation agreement. Mediation is known to be the most cost and time effective way of obtaining a mediated separation agreement.


When should we get an agreement drafted?

You will need a mediated separation agreement before your divorce paperwork. Many people believe that these two documents go hand in hand when in fact, they are totally separate. If you are able to mediate a fair and acceptable mediated separation agreement then this document will override your divorce paperwork. Given that you are required to be separated for a year prior to filing your divorce paperwork, ideally you will have already completed the mediation process and have your mediated separation agreement prior to filing your divorce paperwork. In a joint divorce filing, you are simply asking the court to end the marriage, you are not asking them to rule on anything involved in your separation. 

Can your mediators draft the agreement?

All of our mediators at Clarity Divorce can draft up your mediated separation agreement. They will do so once they are satisfied that they have obtained all of the necessary documentation and information and that everything has been discussed and agreed upon by both parties. 

Does our agreement need to be notarized?

Many people believe that you need to have your mediated separation agreement notarized. Generally as long as both parties and the mediator have signed the agreement it is considered legally binding. You can if you so chose have the agreement notarized at an additional cost. 

What should be included in my agreement?

Another question about mediated separation agreements is what should be included. This is why your mediator is there! Given that every situation is different there are 100’s of ways of structuring your agreement. Overall, the subject that should be included in your mediated separation agreement are:

  • Background information
  • Employment information 
  • Income information
  • Custody of children
  • Access schedules of children
  • Holiday access schedule of the children
  • Important decision making for the children
  • Child support and parameters for termination
  • Spousal support if being paid or a spousal support release if not being paid
  • Pension information- or a release
  • What is happening with the matrimonial home
  • Asset division
  • Debt division
  • Dispute resolution
  • Life insurance
  • Health insurance
  • Division of property
  • And anything else that is important to both parties to have included

Our approach to mediation and therefore obtaining your mediated separation agreement is simple. It all starts with individual consultations for both parties. These consultations are one on one meetings with the mediator. This gives you each the opportunity to meet with the mediator and discuss any potential issues, ask questions, address any concerns and understand the process. This is of great benefit as it does assist the mediation process to go somewhat smoother as the mediator has the opportunity to assess where the potential difficulties may arise.

Once each party has completed their consultations, the mediator will schedule the first mediation session.  With mediation, both parties attend the session where the mediator will discuss all aspects of your separation. The mediator will assist you both in negotiating the terms of your separation including but not limited to: custody, access, child support, spousal support, division of assets and debts, household items, pension divisions and so on.

Mediation is charged by the hour, and will take as long as is necessary for all avenues of the separation to be negotiated and agreed upon. The mediator will be able to assist you both with building an agreement that will outline how your separation will proceed including future decisions. Once everything has been negotiated and agreed upon, the mediator will draft up an agreement. You will have the opportunity to review the agreement and make changes.

In addition, you have the choice to take this agreement to a lawyer of your choosing to be reviewed. This is called independent legal advice. The independent legal advice is not mandatory and more of an option if you so chose. Once the agreement is drafted, changes made, and everyone is ready,  all parties will sign it and that completes the process. You will then have a legally binding mediated separation agreement.

Contact us today at 343-887-5053 or to get your agreement started.

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10 Ways to Reduce Stress During Separation

Stress during a separation is generally inevitable, BUT it does not have to take over you and your life. Whether your separation is amicable or not, there will be aspects that cause you stress. Knowing this is the case, you can be prepared! Here are 10 ways to reduce stress during your separation. 

  1. Know that it is OK to have different feelings at different times. Sometimes feelings creep up on us and when we fight them we create stress. Take time to honor whatever feelings come up.
  2. Look for support. Find support in family and friends, those who love and care about you. Surround yourself with people who want the best for you, who you can talk to about the feelings that come up, who support you.
  3. Give yourself a break. Sometimes it is easy to get caught up in life and beat yourself up over everything. DON’T! Spend your time doing something else. 
  4. Prioritize. Make lists of what needs to be done and what is the most important. Break things down to step by step so that each task feels more attainable. 
  5. Set aside time for yourself. It is so important to refocus, ground yourself, and prioritize yourself. Spend time giving yourself what you need and filling up your bucket. 
  6. Declutter. What better time to get rid of all that stuff that you haven’t looked at or touched in over a year? 
  7. Look into some personal development. Read books that intrigue you, listen to podcasts, find Youtube videos. Personal development can really help to empower and help you to move forward. Find someone who speaks to you and tackle it. 
  8. Spend time with your children. Instead of planning dates with your ex, plan them with your children.  
  9. Take care of yourself physically. Eat well, exercise, meditate, sleep, whatever you need to do to take care of your mind, body, and soul. 
  10. Let go of control. Know that you can’t control everything and that is ok. Stay focused on what you can control and let go of what you can’t. There is no sense in worrying about things that are out of your control. 

Remember that stress affects many aspects of your life, and especially if you children, the best thing you can do is be the best you. 

If you are struggling with the effects and stress of divorce, please reach out, we have many professionals who are available to help you in various capacities. 

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Love Yourself First

Valentine’s day is one of those days… you either hate it, or you love it. When you have ended a relationship, Valentine’s Day can bring out the bitterness in you. 

Remember though, the most important person to love first is yourself. Here is an idea, treat yourself to your dream Valentine’s day. Whether that is a wine and dine, or a romantic staycation, or a night in with your favourite foods. Give yourself everything you have always wanted from someone else on Valentine’s day. Light the candles. Get the flowers. Do you! Here are some great self care ideas for this day of self love:

  1. Take yourself out- Try that restaurant you have been wanting to go to. Go to that movie, try that dance class. Whatever it is…just do it!
  2. Take your kids out for a date. If you have children, plan a special date with them. 
  3. Give yourself the best night in imaginable. Take a bath with salt and candles. Make the most delicious dinner (or order in). Watch any movie you want. Eat the desert. Do whatever you want!
  4. Work on your goals. What better way to focus on yourself then to work towards the goals you have set. Use this time to focus on building the life you want and push for it. 
  5. Plan a night with your friends. Have drinks, do a potluck, go to a movie, hit the bar. Surround yourself with people that lift you up and set you free. 
  6. Crank up the music and have a dance party. Listen to whatever you want and dance the night away, or sing your heart out. 
  7. Make no plans and go with the flow. Ask yourself, “what do I want to do right now?” and do it. Once you’ve done that repeat! 
  8. Center yourself and find your peacefulness. Meditate or go to yoga. Take a walk or spend time in nature. Whatever works to ground yourself. Do that!


Valentine’s day shouldn’t just be about celebrating the traditional relationships, it should be about celebrating all relationships and that includes the relationship with yourself. If you can’t date yourself, spoil yourself, pamper yourself, and show yourself love, then how can you expect anyone else to? 


So, make this Valentine’s day everything you hoped it would be.

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Birdnesting and divorce.... Pros and Cons

What is nesting? Great questions?!? NBC News defines it as “for some divorcing or divorced parents, the answer is ‘nesting‘ (also called ‘birdnesting’). This means to keep the family residence intact as a home where both parents rotate living with their children, while otherwise dwelling in separate residences”

Essentially what this means is that instead of the children going from each parent’s house the children remain in the family home while each parent rotates in and out of the house based on an agreed upon schedule. For example, many parents follow a 2-2-3 schedule where one parent would be with the children in the family home for 2 days while the other parent resides in their own place and then they alternate. 

Pros and cons of nesting arrangements


Financial- Nesting can help to say a lot money during and after the separation. Mostly because it allows you each time to make informed decisions without having to move quickly. This may allow the housing market to rise, or allow for more house shopping time. 

Emotional- This is a great option for the children. Because the children don’t have to move and lose their family home there is much less disruption to their lives. The children don’t have to go from living in one home to living in two and shuffling back and forth. Also, it allows for everyone to have some time to adjust without having to pack everything up. Nesting is a slower transition which allows you time to let go and come to terms with your new circumstances. 


Blurred lines- When you split everything and go your separate ways everything is finalized. When you are nesting, you are sharing financial responsibilities and that sometimes can cause lines to be blurred. There is no clean break. 

Emotional- This somewhat ties into the blurred lines. There is no clean break, or leaving your ex in the dust with this option. There are many reminders in the family home of what was before. Although it may be what is most comfortable for the children it may not be what is most comfortable for you. In addition, it is very difficult to keep your lives separate when you are consistently sharing a space. 

The decision to go with a nesting arrangement should be discussed at length. Your mediator should walk you through it and assist you is negotiating all aspects of the arrangement down to what will happen when one of you wants to terminate the arrangement. It is imperative that you are prepared for all aspects of nesting to make an informed decision moving forward with your separation. 

If you have questions about nesting and whether or not it is for you, one of our mediators would be happy to meet with you. Book your consultation today!

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Child Centered Divorce: What does it mean, and how to do it.

child holding teddy bearIt’s always out there when you read about separation and divorce, “child centered”. What does that even mean? Of course our children are one of the most important topics when dealing with separation and divorce, but what does child centered even mean and how do you know if you are doing it in a way that IS child centered?


Let’s start with what it is. The dictionary defines child centered as giving priority to the interests and need of children. A child centered approach to separation and divorce is when the focus of the negotiations and the process is moved from legal rights, finances, and individual protection and gain to the putting the children’s needs and best interests at the forefront. Although it is important that you know your rights and that you protect yourself in the separation process, it should not be done at the expense of your children. A child centered separation focuses primarily on how this process is affecting the children involved and what plan of action could be taken to alleviate as much tension, stress, drama, and chaos as possible. 


Over time research has shown that it is not necessarily the divorce that causes long term emotional and psychological effects on children, but how that divorce is handled. The more anger, arguing, and chaos in involved in the separation, the higher the likelihood that a child will suffer emotionally. 


The next question. How do we know if our approach is child centered? Well, are you constantly arguing with your ex? Are you more worried about how much money you are getting, or about proving how awful a parent your ex is? Are you battling with lawyers in and out of a courtroom? Are you constantly defending yourself and trying to prove a point, or prove how wront your ex is, or continuing hostility because of emotion rather than fact? If you answered yes to any of these questions then our guess would be that your approach is not child centered. 


None of what was described above is in the children;s best interest. The moment it becomes about YOU it is no longer about THEM. 


What that being said, how do we go about our separation in a child centered way? Mediation is generally the best option in keeping a separation child centered. Your mediator’s focus SHOULD be primarily on what is in the best interest of the children which also includes setting you both up for success. When making decisions it is important to always keep this question at the front of your mind: How will this affect my children?  


Here are 5 tips to keeping your separation child centered:

  1. Keep it all factual- the moment you enter your feelings there is a chance that you are making it about you.
  2. Ask yourself, how will this decision affect my children now or in the future?
  3. Don’t argue over every small detail of the parenting plan. Let’s keep it real, so much will change over time with your children growing up that arguing about every small detail in the parenting RIGHT NOW is a waste of time and money when some of these arrangements can change within the next 6 months to a year depending on the age of your children. 
  4. Look to your mediator for direction. Although they cannot give you legal advice, they can assist you in making decisions that are in the best interest of the child. Remember, your mediator is not emotionally involved in all of this the way you are, therefore they will remain more objective. 
  5. Put yourself in your children’s shoes and try to see things from their perspective. 


If you have any questions about whether or not you are taking a child centered approach, contact us today, we would love to help! 

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Making It Through Your First Round of Holidays

The first year is always the hardest because it is filled with so many firsts. First birthdays without your ex. First kids birthdays, first Valentine’s day being single. First Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas alone or shuttling children back and forth. At some point, during your first year, you find yourself alone in a house,  that is used to all of the hustle bustle. That’s ok! It will be hard, but it can also be liberating and self empowering. 

Being alone during the holidays can be tough. Socks in front of a Christmas tree.Here are 11 ideas of how to change your loneliness into self love, you’re quiet into self reflection, and your stillness into power. 





  1. Switch perspectives. It is hard when you find yourself alone in stillness not to fall into the trap of the should’ve, could’ve, would’ve spiral. This is not a time to rehash the past but to look to your future. Step out of the negativity and move your thoughts towards something more positive. 
  2. Listen to music that you love. Music changes vibes, and there is nothing else like it when you are home alone and cranking some jams and singing or dancing your heart out. 
  3. Cook. Cook or bake, make whatever you love. This isn’t about over indulging it’s about creating and using your time to experiment in the kitchen and try new recipes. 
  4. Read. There are so many good books out there that help to move you towards self empowerment. Pick one up, put some relaxing tunes on, make yourself a meal, and read. Highlight what jumps out at you. Journal as you about your thoughts and feelings. 
  5. Relax. Do whatever it is that you LOVE to do to relax. Whether that be yoga, taking a bath, getting a massage, going for a run, hitting the gym, pampering yourself with a face mask and a hair mask. Whatever it is that totally relaxes you, plan a whole day of just that.
  6. Surround yourself with people who love you. If you are not ready to be fully alone without finding yourself deep in your feelings and emotions, THAT’S OK! Reach out for help from your tribe. Make plans to go for dinner, have a movie night, have friends over to bake or cook, hold a potluck. Whatever you enjoy doing with the people you love, DO IT!
  7. Be selfish. Being viewed as selfish generally has a negative context, but it doesn’t always have to be. This is a difficult time for you and you have every right to take care of yourself, whatever that means. It is not selfish to take care of your mind, body, and soul. So do that! 
  8. Honor where you are and what you are feeling. Emotions that go along with divorce are generally not pleasant emotions that we seek to keep around. In order to pass though these feelings and emotions you must honor them, sit with them, feel them, and come to terms with them. Journalling, talking, and expressing your feelings and emotions is the best way to pass through them and come out of the other side. 
  9. Get creative. Creativity brings out another side of us that grounds us within ourselves. It doesn’t have to be extravagant. It could be creating a vision board, planning a paint night, participating in arts and crafts, baking, cooking, writing, drawing, making music. Anything that gets the creative juices flowing and your hands/feet moving. 
  10. Get active. It is no secret that movement changes how we feel. Boost those endorphins, move for 30 minutes. Dance, hike, swim, lift weights, do yoga, kickboxing, anything that gets your body moving. 
  11. Build new traditions. This is a great one! Get creative, this is your chance to create any traditions that you want. All of those things that you thought, “mmm I would love to do that with my family”,  or “wow I love that idea”. DO IT! Not only does it help you to move forward and focus on the positives, but it also benefits the children. Win, win!


These are just examples of what can help those firsts transform and propel you forward into your new way of living. If you are still struggling with your separation we are here to help. Never forget that reaching out when you are in need is a very courageous thing to do and we are always here to listen. We have services that can assist you in any stage of your struggle. Try some of these suggestions our and let us know what you think 🙂 Click here to contact us!


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Divorce...How Do I Tell The Kids?

A couple having a “the talk” with their son.

A divorce can be a difficult time for any family, but communication is important. The children need to understand that they aren’t responsible for what is taking place. They also need to realize that both parents love them and want to be a part of their lives. This can help children to deal with the many changes that will take place with a divorce.

It is a good idea for the parents to sit down with the children to discuss the issue of divorce. Some parents choose to do this with all of the children at one time. Others find it is better to do so with each child one at a time. This is often due to age differences as well as the individual personalities of each child.

The responsibility of telling the children about the divorce should never fall on the shoulders of only one parent. A united front needs to be displayed from the start of it. The children will feel more secure hearing the information from both of their parents rather than just one of them.

The children don’t need to know all of the details of why the parents are divorcing. It shouldn’t turn into a blame game where each of the parents tries to get the children to take their side in the matter. What they do need to know is that their parents won’t be staying together and how that is going to affect them.

Give children time to take in the information that is taking place. Even though they likely have an idea that things aren’t going well in the home, they may be shocked by the idea of a divorce. Let them know they can come to either parent with questions that they may have about it.

It can be a good idea to have another meeting with both parents and all the children or each child one on one a couple of weeks later. That will give the children some time to deal with their thoughts about the divorce. They may be more ready to talk about it now than they were when you first told them about it.

Be ready to offer your children more support during the divorce process. Some children act out in anger because of it. Others many become withdrawn due to their emotions. It is important that their needs are addresses as too many parents are too wrapped up in their own feelings over a divorce to provide their children with the support they need.

Older children may press for more information as to why the divorce is taking place. Parents need to have a plan of action as to how they will handle such questions. If one of the adults has been having an affair you may decide it is best not to disclose that information to the children. This is a personal choice that you need to make before you sit down to talk about the divorce with the children though.

Parents need to come to terms with the concepts of the divorce before the children are approached though. The children need to be reassured that they will be fine through all of it. That can’t happen if they get the impression that their parents aren’t okay with what is going to be taking place.

Try to share some basic plans with the children as well. For example you need to tell them what the living arrangements will be. You also need to let them know when the changes will be taking place. This way they can start to prepare for what is ahead of them.

When children are involved in what is going on with a divorce they tend to deal with it better. They don’t feel like they are just being thrown into the middle of what is going on. A divorce is never easy for anyone, especially when children are involved. Yet it can be a process everyone gets through if you are willing to put your differences aside and work together to come up with a good solution for everyone.

Here are a few more tips for when you are talking to your children:

  • Remember that more times than not, this is not their choice.
    Age appropriate honesty is always the best way to go. Answer their questions as direct as possible.
  • Keep your emotions and opinions about the situation to yourself. Many times children will not want to upset anyone and therefore will not share their feelings or thoughts to avoid affecting how their parents feel.
  • Have a plan. Know what you are going to say. Explain to your children what will happen and how it will happen. Children are often affected by the “unknown” so the more you can alleviate that then better. If there will be a new schedule tell them what that is. If they are moving explain to them what will happen.
  • Allow them to have their feelings about it. It is uncomfortable to see your children sad, angry, hurt, confused, or upset, but they need to be free to experience their feelings and honor their feelings.

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Contact Clarity today to learn how we can simplify the separation or divorce process for you. We look forward to helping you.

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