It’s always tragic when a marriage ends, and even more so when there are children involved. Some kids adapt and adjust very well as their parents move on with their separate lives, but for others, it’s a bit tougher.

Even if you’re blessed with a resilient child who seems to be bouncing back quickly, there are things you can do that will help. Specific things you can do to both reassure and to let them know in no uncertain terms that you’re still there for them, even when you’re not physically present all the time.

Child Support

If you don’t have custody of your child, then odds are that you’re paying child support. You may or may not have had much of a say in the amount; usually you don’t. The courts in most states use a formulaic approach to determining how much child support you owe each month, and while some deviation from the baseline is allowed at the judge’s discretion, you’ve got to really do some convincing if you want your amount to be lowered.

Even if it’s a bit of a financial pinch, however, I’d recommend not contesting it. Not only will it turn the entire proceeding hostile (or make it more hostile if that bridge has already been crossed), but also because of the message it sends to the child. If you contest the amount you have to pay, you’re giving the other parent ammunition, and in a divorce, I’m sorry to say, cheap shots are often taken to score points, so imagine: You raise a big stink over the amount you have to pay in court, and manage to get it reduced by some amount. What happens next?

Was It Worth It?

Well, pat yourself on the back for getting the rate lowered, but what may happen next is that every time your child wants something, the custodial parent can say, “No, I’m sorry honey…we could get that for you but your dad fought for the right to pay less…we just don’t have the money.”

I’m not saying it always happens, but also, don’t fool yourself into thinking that the conversation, or one very much like it, won’t play out. Don’t put yourself in that position. Find other areas of the budget to tighten up and make it work. Divorce is hard. Being separated from your kids except on holidays and weekends is harder still; don’t give yourself a black eye by doing something like that. It might not have an immediate impact, but long term, hearing these types of comments time and again, is going to make your child or children wonder just how much you actually care about them or if a little bit of money was deemed more important than they are.

Also, it’s important to not ever let your kids hear you complain about having to pay. The same thinking applies. All it takes is one time and you give your ex ammunition forever, not to mention the message you’re sending to your kids. Just don’t do it.

Visitation Rights

Here’s the other biggie. If you want to let your child know you care and you don’t have custody, then every time you pick them up, you need to be early. Every single day needs to be a big deal. If something comes up at work, try to do everything in your power to be there for your kids. If you get invited to the bar with your friends, cancel or reschedule it. Put your kids first so they know you care. If you allow other elements of your life to always take precedence over them, it will be no time at all before they receive that message loud and clear? “My parent loves me, as long as nothing better comes along.”