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Preparing for co-parenting during divorce negotiations

If you and your spouse have opted to go your separate ways, you are likely struggling with a host of challenging emotions. You may be grieving deeply, incredibly angry, overwhelmingly guilty or navigating numerous other emotions depending on your unique circumstances. It is normal and healthy to have strong emotions in the wake of a decision to divorce. However, it is vitally important that you process these emotions primarily "outside" of your divorce negotiations process, especially if you and your spouse will be co-parenting your minor children moving forward.

Your attorney will be able to advise you in regards to your plans for shared custody or primary custody. In addition, your attorney will be able to aid you in crafting a parenting plan with your spouse. While custody arrangements speak to legal responsibility for your child, your parenting plan will allow you to outline your intended approach to meeting your child's best interests moving forward. In constructing your parenting plan during your divorce negotiations, you will also set the stage for your future co-parenting relationship. This is one of the many reasons why it is important to remain level headed during your divorce negotiation process.

Your attorney will almost certainly advise you that when crafting a parenting plan, it is important to focus on the best interests of your child, not your strong emotions related to your spouse. Sometimes, if it is difficult to focus on anything other than your emotions, it can help to think of you and your spouse as business partners. Your "business" is essentially ensuring that the best needs of your child are met. Effective business partners do not always get along, but when they are interacting, they focus on what they can each do to ensure that the mission of their business is advanced.

If you are concerned that you may not be able to keep your emotions in check during your divorce negotiations, do not hesitate to vocalize your concerns to your attorney. If your attorney is informed of this possibility, he or she may be able to give you some guidance in regards to this issue.

No matter what kind of custody arrangement you are seeking, if you and your spouse will be co-parenting your child, it is important to approach the process of laying the foundation for that relationship with a level head during your divorce negotiations. Regardless of how your spouse responds to this level-headed approach, your future self will almost certainly thank you for focusing on your child's best interests at this critical juncture.

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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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