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Continuing to co-parent during a divorce

There are a number of reasons that parents in Tennessee need to be able to work together effectively during and after a divorce. Effective co-parenting helps children feel that they are loved by and able to communicate with both parents and reduces their stress level. It also models good conflict resolution for children.

There are a few steps parents can take. One is creating a parenting agreement. By putting such an agreement in writing, parents can take some of the emotion out of the arrangement and make it more businesslike. There are several points that are usually addressed in a parenting plan. These include when the child is with each parent, when exchanges occur and where the child spends holidays. The plan may also address how parents communicate, how decisions are made, how conflict is resolved and what will happen if the plan needs to be changed.

Parents should also encourage the child's relationship with the other parent. This may mean setting aside issues from the marriage to focus on the well-being of the child. Parents should not use the children to carry messages back and forth or put them in the middle in any other way. If necessary, they may want to seek therapy. Some children may also benefit from being able to talk to a third party about the situation.

For many parents, issues around child custody can be the most difficult element of a divorce. Negotiating or litigating child custody usually means parents must acknowledge that their divorce means less time with their children. However, in the absence of serious issues such as abuse, children generally benefit from having the opportunity to build a relationship with both parents. The court system makes custody rulings based on the best interests of the child, and parents should use this criteria in their decisions as well.

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