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Tips to make child custody situations a bit easier for everyone

Life with children after a divorce isn't always easy. Not only do you have to deal with the usual issues that come with raising children, you also have to deal with potential conflicts with your ex. One way that you might be able to minimize the latter is by having a parenting plan that outlines what is going to happen with the children.

Many child custody cases involve parents who are going to work together for the children. Following some simple guidelines can help to make the situation a bit less stressful and easier to handle.

Follow the custody agreement

You need to ensure that the child custody agreement is set up in a way that benefits the children. When you go through mediation, you and your ex can work together to come up with the terms. This can be as detailed or general as you feel is necessary. For some parents, one area that must be detailed is the schedule. You need to have one to follow for most of the year and one for holidays. There should also be specific information about how vacations will be handled.

Agree to be respectful

Treating each other with respect is a huge part of being able to make a shared parenting situation work. The way both adults speak to each other and about each other are both important. There shouldn't ever be disparagement between parents, even when they are speaking to others. Your marriage might not have worked, but your ex is still your child's parent.

Communicate with each other

Never be tempted to use the children as messengers between you and your ex. Not only does this introduce the possibility of messages being misstated, it also puts the children in a difficult spot. Instead, communicate directly with your ex or have a professional mediator who can act as a go-between. Setting the standards for this in the parenting plan can help.

Include or not include the children

It is not recommended that the children be included in the discussions regarding major issues, but if they are old enough it is not unusual for them to ask questions from time to time.  If this happens, it is best to sit down together with them to find out how they are feeling and what they are thinking. If you and your ex are not able to have these talks together with the children, then you may carefully respond, being sure not to disparage the other parent.

Always remember that your children's best interests have to be put at the heart of every matter pertaining to them. Once you do this, you may find that things are easier to handle since they aren't about you and your ex any longer.

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Wilson, Dabler & Associates, L.L.C.
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