Barbara J. Katzenberg, Attorney at Law
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Minimizing the effects of divorce on Massachusetts children

Hostility and anger for ex-spouses can permeate during and after divorce. When children are involved, though, hot emotions can be damaging and make child custody and visitation real problems for everyone involved. Keeping the best interests of the child in mind is crucial to making sure they survive what may be the most difficult time of their young lives.

In most states, the legal requirements of child custody and child support determine each parent's responsibilities after divorce. They also recognize the rights of each parent, particularly those of the noncustodial parent in visitation arrangements and parenting plans.

Divorce can be traumatic for children, and they usually do not understand what is happening. When parents openly display anger and make negative comments, they are focusing more on their own problems than their children's welfare. As a result, children often act out through substance abuse, poor academic performance, behavioral problems and general issues of low self-esteem that may at first seem temporary, but can be problems that extend into adulthood.

Parents' issues can be addressed through an effective co-parenting plan -- if both parties agree to it and stick with the arrangement no matter how angry or hostile they might feel. This can go a long way in helping children cope with divorce.

Each parent should act with respect toward the other. Communication should concentrate on their children's well-being, not on their personal issues. Matters such as money and court procedures should be discussed privately. Keeping emotions in check may allow both parents to communicate with civility, spend time with the child comfortably and allow effective co-parenting to flourish.

Decisions made about child custody should always keep children's welfare in mind first and foremost. This mindset can help children through the process of divorce.

Source: Sun Sentinel, "He said, she said," Allyson Tomchin, April 4, 2013.

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