Family law judges in Tennessee and around the country consider the best interests of the child when making custody decisions, and most of the research in this area suggests that the children of divorce fare best when they have the opportunity to spend time with both of their parents. This means that co-parenting solutions are becoming increasingly common, but this type of arrangement requires all of the parties involved to make a concerted effort and remain committed to a common goal.
Divorced parents often harbor resentment and animosity toward one another, but these feelings must be put aside for co-parenting arrangements to be successful. Child psychologists say that divorced parents should set similar house rules and avoid criticizing their former spouses in front of their children. They should also identify possible areas of disagreement and take steps to prevent further conflict.
A pitfall for co-parents to avoid is instilling a false sense of hope in their children. Seeing parents who have been involved in a bitter divorce working together can lead children to believe that reconciliation is possible or even likely, and it can be emotionally devastating for them when these hopes are dashed. Experts say that being honest and open with children and establishing realistic goals is the best way to avoid such situations.
Experienced family law attorneys may work to settle thorny issues at the negotiating table and avoid protracted litigation; this may be particularly true when young children are involved. When conventional negotiations fail to produce an amicable settlement, attorneys may recommend taking an alternative approach. Mediation encourages disputing parties to find common ground and see issues from a different perspective, and it is also generally far less costly than settling cases in court. Family law judges may also order divorcing parents to work with a mediator before hearing their cases.