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Resources are available to help divorcing parents co-parent

Co-parenting your children with your ex after a divorce can be one of the most challenging things you'll ever have to do. Everyone has a different style of parenting, and now that you each have more time alone with your kids, differences in parenting styles become more obvious. Couple that with residual anger from the break-up and you have a recipe for disaster, with your kids bearing the brunt of the damage.

The challenges of successful co-parenting impact so many people that University of Minnesota Extension's Center for Family Development even offers a program to help parents and children going through the transition of a separation or divorce. It's called Parents Forever.

The program can be done in person at locations throughout Minnesota or online. There's even a special online version designed in partnership with North Dakota State University that's adapted to meet requirements that may be mandated by North Dakota courts.

This kind of program may not be necessary for all families. One couple who has worked out their own approach to continuing to raise their kids as a team says that putting the kids first is key. So is remembering the good times together and letting the bad ones go.

Of course, that's easier when exes genuinely like and respect one another and have shared values and goals. Some people get to that point more easily than others.

As you're going through a divorce, if you believe that you and your children will benefit by some outside help, whether it's a class or therapy, make your opinion known. The sooner you begin dealing with this important transition in your lives, the more likely it is to be successful.

It's preferable if you and your spouse can do it on your own rather than have a judge mandate it. Your family law attorney can likely recommend a number of resources that will fit your family's needs and budget.

Source: Echo Press, "Co-parenting can be done well," Amy Chaffins, Oct. 08, 2015

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Commandments of Family Law

  1. The only truth your children need to know is that you both love them unconditionally, and that this isn't their fault.
  2. Take the high road — everyone wins when you do what's best for your kids.
  3. Negotiate but don't capitulate — if you are being pushed toward something detrimental for your children, stand your ground.
  4. You can only control yourself and how you respond. Don't engage.
  5. Do set up rules and responsibilities. Kids feel better when routine is continued.
  6. You are still their parent — don't be afraid to be one.
  7. Disneyland is in California, not in your home. Don't set up unreasonable expectations.
  8. It is not their job to take care of you. Repeat that to them. Often.
  9. Yelling is for sports — not court. Good lawyers strongly advocate without being disrespectful to opposing parties.
  10. Fair is a place you go to get cheese curds. Aside from that, nothing in life is fair.

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