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Child custody and co-parenting

Child custody is the legal arrangement that you and your former spouse create during your divorce. While the divorce severs the matrimonial ties of your relationship, if you have children, it does not change your status as parent. But your status as parent means you will have a type of relationship with your matrimonial ex. It is often referred to as co-parenting.

Co-parenting is different because with the dissolution of your marriage, many decisions that would have been ad hoc and worked out on the fly, now need to be understood in the context of your child custody agreement, legal custody and its decision making protocols. How do you decide what doctor you child sees? Or which church they attend or the summer camp they spend time at? 

But co-parenting also means you have to develop a new relationship with your former spouse that involves your role as co-parents. At first you may need to limit your contact with your children's other parent, as the tension and stress may be too great.

As time passes, you may grow to understand your new roles, working to help you children develop without the hurt and resentment that an unpleasant divorce can bring. A carefully worked-out parenting plan, which creates structure of interaction, can help defuse tension that could otherwise occur.

Your attorney can help develop this plan, encouraging you to think of all the potential issues that may arise, yet still allowing flexibility for growth and change as your children grow. A well constructed parenting plan can go a long ways towards creating the basis of the next stage of your relationship, which will most certainly be in the best interests of your children.

Yahoo.com, "Our Co-Parenting Breakthrough Moment After Grim Divorce," Melissa Fleming, April 23, 2015

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