Barbara J. Katzenberg, Attorney at Law
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Parenting with former spouses after settling child custody

Although divorce is usually hard on spouses, it is all the more difficult when children are involved. In fact, the child custody arrangement may be the most complicated part. Very often, people think that child custody involves only which parent will be the custodial parent, the primary caretaker and which will be the non-custodial parent. This is frequently true, but it depends on the state. In Massachusetts, for example, child custody also entails determining the divorcing spouses' parental rights and responsibilities, which include the visitation arrangement and parenting plan.

A recent report may be of interest to parents who have undergone divorce and are co-parenting. In co-parenting or joint custody, divorced parents choose to share the parental responsibilities. Unfortunately, even though co-parenting probably serves the best interests of the child, it may also become a source of conflict and arguments between the ex-spouses.

To prevent that from happening, parents should strive to help their children cope with their new situation. Parents' telling the kids about their personal issues or criticism of the ex-spouses is a bad idea. Doing so only creates confusion and anxiety for the children, given that the ex-spouse is still their parent, no matter what.

In the middle of a divorce, communication plays a big role. Parents should communicate to their children that they love them, and that the divorce cannot change that. Parents can also encourage communication whenever they spend time with the children. Good communication between the co-parents will have positive results. As long as they are talking, parents can understand the issues and likely solve them without affecting the well-being of the child.

Conflicts in child custody or co-parenting cases are common. However, parents in the midst of a custody settlement should be concerned about the welfare of their children, not their own personal interests. With that perspective, parents can create an effective parenting plan and visitation arrangement that benefits the children.

Source: The Southern Illinoisan, "Living Well: Parenting Through divorce-What Do I Do Now?," Stephanie Duckworth, May 23, 2013.

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