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Divorce is not an easy time for divorcing spouses, and many of us have personal experience as to how it can affect children.
While you may not be able to prevent the emotional fallout that comes with two parents choosing to separate their lives, you may be able to use a few tips to ease the transition for you and your children.
Here are five parenting tips to keep in mind during a divorce:
1. Let Your Child Be Open With the Court.
In almost all divorce cases, custody of any shared children is a well-worn issue. Most courts will attempt a solution that focuses on a child's best interests, including his or her preferences.
Allow your children to be open with the court about their wishes, and the court may take those desires into account.
The family court dealing with your divorce may arrange to talk with your children in order to determine their preference. In some states like California, children are allowed to testify at custody hearings if they're old enough.
2. Don't Use Custody Exchanges as Battlegrounds.
Almost all child custody arrangements allow each parent time to visit and often "swap" custody of shared children for a set period of time.
Keep in mind that "swapping" your children back and forth is already taking an emotional toll, so try to curb any parental bickering during these exchanges. Failing to do so may lead to limitations on your visitation rights in the future.
3. Create a Vacation Schedule With the Other Parent in Mind.
Summertime is a perfect time for family vacations, but it's also a perfect excuse for one parent to forget about the other's desire to see their shared children.
Unless you enjoy spending your summer in mediation instead of on the beach, try to notify your ex-spouse of vacation plans, and (ideally) create a vacation schedule that works for both of you.
4. Be Aware of Parental Child Abductions.
Because custody battles can often take center stage in a divorce proceeding, it is important to protect your children from a spiteful ex-spouse who wants to spirit them away.
If you have current custody of your children, consider asking for travel restrictions or even supervised visitation for your ex-spouse, which may prevent him or her from taking your shared children away without the proper permission.
5. Let 'Sesame Street' Guide You.
The innovative children's television program "Sesame Street" has been tackling tough issues since its inception, and the creators have since released a multimedia kit for parents to help explain divorce to their children.
Using the "Sesame Street" divorce kit, and others like it, can help a parent focus on the practical implications of divorce, like custody arrangements and two households, as well as reinforcing both parents' love for their child.
Whatever the outcome in even the most acrimonious divorce, keeping a child's best interests in mind will help parents make better emotional and legal decisions during this difficult time. For specific advice on your particular situation, consider asking your family law attorney for guidance.