Parenting After Separation: New Year's Resolutions

What are your new year’s resolutions?

It’s that time of year again! As we think about our goals for the coming year, we encourage you to add the following to your list if you are a separated parent.

Update your Will and Powers of Attorney (or do them for the first time). These are some of the most important documents you can have. Your Will sets out what you want to happen with your estate and your children after you pass away (learn what happens if you die without a Will). Your Powers of Attorney give someone authority to deal with your property if you’re incapacitated, and to make personal care decisions for you. Chances are, you’ve changed your mind about many of these things since your separation. Don’t put off updating these any longer!

Judge your co-parent by their intentions (and assume they mean well). If you’re speeding and cut someone off in traffic, you may justify it to yourself - perhaps you are running late for an important meeting, or rushing a child to the hospital. If someone else cuts you off the same way, we often don’t give them the benefit of considering their intentions - we simply judge their action, thinking “What a jerk! What an awful driver!”

Do you find yourself judging your co-parent’s actions, while only judging your own intentions? You might think it’s okay for you to be late picking up the kids because you were stuck at work - but then assume your spouse is late because he is hanging out with friends. When you send quick request by text, you know you mean it in a kind and hopeful way - but when she sends you one, you read her words in mean tone and assume selfishness. This year, resolve to give your spouse the benefit of the doubt.

Support your kids’ relationship with your co-parent in a new way. What can you do to support your kids’ relationship with their other parent? Kathryn d’Artois, a mediator in Ottawa, shared some great ideas on her Twitter feed recently: listen attentively to a story about what they did together, comment positively about a trait your former partner has from which the children benefit, listen without judgement. Sometimes it can be as simple as offering a phone call before bed, or asking about their time with their other parent.

Exchange your income information with your spouse and adjust support payments if needed. If you have a Separation Agreement or court Order regarding child or spousal support, it likely contains clauses regarding the exchange of income information and varying of support payments. This should happen on an annual basis, even if you don’t have an agreement or Order. But many people fail to take this step. When you do your taxes this year, contact your former partner about reviewing your support arrangements to ensure no one falls behind. While you’re at it, you should also make sure you have the right amount of life insurance in place.

Take care of yourself. Set aside a moment or two every day for self care. It doesn’t have to be time consuming or expensive. Self care can be as simple as a few deep breaths, watching some funny Youtube videos, or taking a quick walk around the block. If you’re looking for ideas, check out Hello Divorce’s Self Care Worksheet.

Get started. Perhaps you separated recently, or you’ve been separated for a while and have put off finalizing the details. In either case, resolve to contact a family lawyer this year about your rights and obligations. There are deadlines for dividing your property, and you may be entitled to support payments you are not receiving. You may also owe support payments or an equalization payment, and ignoring the situation will not make it go away. Get started by booking a consultation with one of our lawyers.

Whatever your goals for 2019, we wish you health, happiness and peace in your family. If we can be of any help to you, don’t hesitate to book a free telephone call.