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DIVORCE WITH CHILDREN

Written by Jodi Loden:

When going through a divorce, it is important to remember that your conduct can affect a judge's ultimate findings as to custody and/or can cause unnecessary trauma and/or damage to your children. Although this is an extremely emotional time in your life, it will prove beneficial to both yourself and your family to adhere to the following guidelines:

1. Do not listen to and/or record conversations between your children and your spouse unless there is a medical emergency and/or possible abuse and/or some other extreme situation.

2. Avoid buying over-the-top gifts and/or engaging in other behaviors which could be interpreted as attempts to bride your children and/or buy your children's love/affection.

3. Don't interrogate your children.

4. Don't use your children as weapons to harm the other Party.

5. Don't talk about the case and/or make fun of and/or speak down about the other parent to and/or with your children.

6. Don't bring your children with you to your lawyer's office and/or to court unless it is absolutely necessary, i.e., in cases involving abuse, etc., and even then, it is much better to request that a Guardian Ad Litem be appointed and/or that a therapist speak for your children in court rather then to subject the children to the trauma of testifying against one of their parents.

7. Continue to encourage your children to have loving and close relationships the other parent.

8. Don't ask your children to convey messages about adult issues and/or the case and/or to spy on the other parent.

9. Don't be offended and/or easily upset if your children appear to "protect" and/or "side with" the weaker/more emotional parent. It is natural for children to want to defend, protect and/or take care of a wounded parent. Instead of penalizing the children, schedule therapy with the children and/or talk to the children to help them work through their emotions, understand that they don't not have to "pick a side."

10. Do not become the fun parent and/or the parent that always gives in. It is important to maintain rules, boundaries and normality for children during a divorce.

11. Learn from your mistakes. You will not always behave well while emotions are raging during a divorce and that is natural and to be expected. But don't make the same mistakes twice.

12. Be flexible with residential schedules, activities, etc. Focus on creating the best possible situation for the children instead of who is "winning."

13. Don't fight in front of the children.

14. Continue to include the other parent in important events in the children's lives and to discuss important decisions with the other parent.

15. Don't date or, if you do, don't introduce the person you are dating to your children and/or talk about that person with your children while the divorce is pending.

16. Continue to contribute to your children's expenses even if there is no court order in place requiring you to do so. The court will go back and determine what you owed during the time you were not paying anyway and award it as an arrears judgment. So, there is no reason to penalize your children by taking money away from them during a divorce. Also, a court does not look favorably on any parent who refuses to adequately support their children during a divorce.

These guidelines will likely help you to maintain a positive relationship with your children during the divorce proceeding while preventing behavior which a court is likely to hold against you in a making a custody/visitation determination.