If you have children, the longest lasting legacy of your divorce will be what you taught them during the divorce and their memories. How that plays out is largely in your hands. While there is likely to be few things about your divorce that will seem pleasant or enjoyable, the better prepared you are for the process and the better able you are to cope with the challenges that do arise, the better your children will do during and after the divorce.

Expectation setting is important. Your divorce attorney can help, because they can explain each element of the process, from the property division and spousal support to child custody and child support, and how each will likely operate in you divorce.

For parents in Missouri, the centerpiece of your divorce will be your parenting plan. This part of your divorce agreement covers custody, decision-making, dispute resolution and expenses of your children. It will govern much of your interaction with your child or children until they become adults and necessarily, your interaction with their other parent.

The parenting plan lays out the details of your custody, how much time each parent is allocated, who has weekends, birthdays, holidays and summer vacation. This can be complex, as you have to think with specificity about much of your life differently than when you were married.

The better thought out and detailed the plan, the less likely for surprises and for unexpected events, which can easily spark conflict. Having a process in place to deal with these types of issues can help allow your interaction with your former spouse to remain civil.

Civility is important, as your children will absorb much of how you handle your divorce. You work in good faith and with civility toward your former spouse, not for their sake, but for your children. Because whatever you do, they will remember.

Source: The Huffington Post, “Divorce Lessons: 8 Critical Choices in Making a Positive Split,” John McElhenny, August 5, 2014