When people choose an alternative dispute resolution method like mediation, one-lawyer or collaborative divorce, it’s usually because they want to avoid conflict throughout the process and beyond as much as possible. Most often, it’s because parents want to protect their children from strife and emotional stress.
Divorce looks very different from what it did even 20 years ago, and for the better. It used to be that the mother got the house and custody and the father was relegated to a weekend visitor. Now, as people are becoming increasingly involved in directing the terms and process of their separation, there are almost limitless possibilities as to what shape a family can take post-divorce.
The U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community 2019 Survey reports that only 19% of family households would be considered part of a traditional family, defined as a married couple living with children. This means that just over 80% of us have alternative living situations, such as blended families, co-parenting nesting arrangements, etc. With so much flexibility and options, it does beg the question is it possible to remain a family after divorce?
Beyond co-parenting, many divorced families have managed to achieve it. They share meals and holidays together, attend the kids’ activities together, and in some cases, even take vacations together. It’s a noble ideal and not everyone can reach it. After all, there are reasons you are no longer a couple. Sometimes the differences are insurmountable and the best you can do is be civil with each other. And that’s ok. But if you are able to put aside your differences and put the children first, everyone will be better off.
Sharing a family meal gives a lot of comfort to the children. Sharing holidays, especially Christmas and birthdays, lets the children be children and removes the stress of having to go back and forth in the middle of their special day. Including significant others, after an appropriate amount of time has passed, helps the children avoid feeling like they are being placed in the middle, and having to keep secrets from their other parent. And of course, being able to vacation together is the holy grail of co-parenting, and if you can pull it off, is best for both the parents and the children because no one feels left out. Whatever shape your family takes post-divorce, the more inclusive it can be, the better for all.