Bruce C. Zivley, Attorney at Law

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30 Years

of Family Law Experience

Use best practices to avoid child custody problems

Everyone in the family turns the page following a divorce, and children often suffer the most disruption to their lives. You want to be sure that how you handle this next chapter is going to be in their best interests.

While you share that hope with the other parent, you may have different views as to what exactly constitutes best interests. Using “best practices” to deal with child custody may be a more practical, business-like approach.

Tacks to take

No matter how you get along with each other, you and your ex-spouse should present a united front to the children. First things first: Reassure them of your never-ending love, then explain how the custody agreement will work. If they know what to expect, this new transition period will become easier for them to manage. Make sure the children understand that they now have two homes and will always be welcome in each. Develop a reasonable, workable schedule that will take their daily routine and extracurricular activities into consideration.

Things not to do

If at all possible, do not separate the children. Keep siblings together to avoid any appearance of favoritism. Behave like the responsible adult you would like each of your kids to become. You should not criticize or disrespect the other parent in front of the children, nor create a situation that requires them to choose between you. Do not be too rigid about child custody issues; there is such a thing as compromise.

Managing dilemmas

In time, you will settle into a routine as divorced parents, but you will also face challenges in raising your children that might not have surfaced when you were still married. When situations get sticky and you run out of ideas to solve problems, remember that you can reach out to friends, family and other members of your support group, one of whom will likely be an experienced family law attorney. The way forward will depend on love, determination, the ability to adjust and best practices.

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