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How to handle a divorce: Tips for parents

Divorce can be tough time for parents. In addition to the complicated legal issues faced by divorcing spouses, some people struggle to adjust to the drastically altered lifestyle and relationships that come with a separation. During this process, it's easy for parents to focus on their own problems and lose sight of the issues faced by their children. But the decisions made during a divorce will have lifelong consequences for children; therefore, it's important to give their needs extra care and attention throughout the process.

When parents are deciding upon a child custody agreement, they should try to consider which arrangement will be best for the child. If an agreement is reached that involves many transitions from house to house, spouses should take care to ensure that these transitions are not a source of stress for children. Parents should not argue when they meet during a transition; rather, conversations should be kept light and cordial. It's also important that children are not used as mailmen- parents should find a different way to deliver messages or child support checks.

In addition, parents should maintain boundaries between adult problems and kid problems. Don't discuss relationship troubles or money issues with children during a divorce; kids aren't able to understand these weighty issues, and they have problems of their own that they need to learn to deal with first.

Finally, parents should try to maintain a healthy relationship with their ex-spouse. Even after a separation, parents will always be connected in some way through the common endeavor of parenthood, an endeavor that becomes much easier if both parents are able to get along. Fair, good-natured discourse eases the stress that can exist between ex-spouses and sets a good example for children.

Of course, good parenting first requires a fair child custody agreement. For some, it can be a challenge just to earn the rights to custody or visitation. In these cases, parents should consider speaking to a child custody attorney for more information about their rights moving forward. With the proper assistance, parents can come to a favorable agreement while still upholding the best interests of the child.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Parenting Tips While Going Through Divorce," Micki McWade, Oct. 30, 2012

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