How to Set Expectations for Your Family After Divorce


The status quo of family routines might feel uncertain for everyone after divorce. Each member of the family has to learn how to experience daily life in a brand new way. From holidays to family dinners, carrying on these traditions might have the best intentions, but they can also prevent healing and confuse the children you have together. So how much peaceful coexistence is possible after divorce? Here are some considerations you should assess early on when establishing your family dynamic expectations.

Diverging from dysfunctional patterns

Even if you and your ex are civil and have taken a more conscious uncoupling approach, the bad habits and unhealthy patterns that existed during your marriage will still be there unless you deliberately address them. That might mean you need to make an effort to spend time away from your ex-spouse. Extra space might be needed at first to address and adjust to new and healthier habits and dynamics— whether that means stopping Sunday family dinners or simply cutting communication down to once per day and keeping it about the kids. You might think regular family habits are good for the stability of the kids, when in fact what  they need is for their parents to have a bit of healthy distance.

Refinancing new family budgets

Remember all of those monetary decisions you made during your divorce? From alimony to child support to the division of assets and property, all of those debts and distributions have to be implemented now. Take the time you need to assess your finances and calculate your monthly budget with these new changes so you don’t face any surprises. Your lifestyle and daily spending habits are likely to change, so make sure you understand what your new financial status looks like so you can adjust accordingly.

Determining and sticking to boundaries

Balancing the tightrope that stands between providing clarity of the separation for your kids and giving them false hope of reconciliation is tricky and takes time and effort. You’ll want to establish security and consistency for them without making them think things might go back to the way they were before. 

Temporary nesting (or birdnesting) is an option that works for some families, where each parent takes a turn staying in the home the child is used to during the period of separation. Beyond adjusting to living in two homes, parents need to navigate how to structure milestones like birthday parties along with regular events like school functions and extracurriculars. Every family is different, and it’s up to you and your ex-spouse to find the level of collaboration that works best for both the parents and the kids.

The challenges of separation exist far beyond signing divorce papers. An experienced family law attorney at Shafer Law Firm can support you in helping set your kids up for success during and after divorce. Contact us for more information.


About the Author: Elizabeth L. Spadafore

Elizabeth was raised in Meadville, PA and was a local small business owner before attending Duquesne University School of Law, where she received her Juris Doctorate degree in 2010.  She focuses her practice on family law matters such as divorce, custody and support. Her background as former County Solicitor for Crawford County Children and Youth services, combined with her experience in bankruptcy actions and personal injury actions, allows her to successfully navigate matters that are both highly sensitive and legally complex.

This content is provided for general informational purposes only, and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information contained in this post should be construed as legal advice, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in, or accessible through, this Post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.

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