Divorce is a legal process through which a couple can end their marriage, but it is also very much an emotional journey as well. This is especially true for children whose parents are splitting up. Tweens and teens want to know that both of their parents will still be there for them, but amidst the confusion of significant life changes, it can sometimes be difficult to demonstrate this. Still, divorcing parents can protect their parent-child relationships by including technology in child custody agreements.
You might not have your child’s smartphone or laptop on your mind when you are hammering out the details of your custody arrangement. In fact, you might even be tired of seeing your teen staring at a screen and want to set tighter restrictions. Although this is a reasonable feeling, you might want to shift your perception of technology when it comes to protecting your relationship with your child.
Frequent contact is important
Divorce is a vulnerable time for children. Frequent and consistent reassurance from both parents is important both during and after this period, but many parents are not sure how to effectively maintain and protect means of communication. This is where technology comes in.
Older children usually have access to at least one personal device, such as a smartphone, laptop or tablet. Communication through these devices provides an important window into your child’s life. Using these devices also makes it harder for one parent to play gatekeeper, harming a child’s relationship with his or her other parent as a result. Although you might not be able to be there physically at all times, you can still contact your child through:
- Phone calls
- Video chat
- Text messages
- Social media
Conflict with your ex may not matter
Experts used to think that couples who still had high levels of conflict after divorce should do their best to avoid contact for the sake of their children. This often resulted in one parent maintaining primary custody of the children with the other relegated to visitation and only occasional contact. Now, researchers are reversing this view.
Researchers now say that it may not really matter if a child’s parents cannot get along after a divorce. Exposure to small levels of conflict does not outweigh the overwhelming benefits of having easy access to both parents, either physically or digitally. Essentially, the more contact a child has with his or her parents, the better the relationship.
Do not leave things up to chance
So, your teen has a smartphone on which you can easily contact them. You might assume that your ex-spouse would not take the phone away as punishment, but what happens if he or she does? This would leave you without any way to contact your child. Your ex could even try to limit your teen’s access to technology in an effort to damage your relationship.
Since you know that your child will benefit from consistent and frequent contact, you need to protect the means of communication. Some parents in Michigan choose to include things like communication and technology use in their parenting plans, which protects everyone involved. However, it is possible that your ex might not be on board with this plan. If that is the case, you could need to seek guidance from an experienced family law attorney who can provide information on child custody that is unique to your situation.