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Raising a child after a divorce

Every North Dakota parent will attest to the challenges of raising children, and every divorced North Dakota parent will attest to the greatly increased effort required to raise a child after a divorce. The topic itself is far larger than any single blog post can encompass, but knowing where to turn for help can significantly reduce the burden for both parents.

North Dakota lawmakers have made the legislative decision that every child fares better if both parents are involved in a permanent and continuing relationship with the child. State law requires each divorcing couple to prepare a joint parenting plan for approval by the court. If a contentious relationship prevents the parents from drafting such a plan, the court will order a plan based upon the statutory language that enumerates the factors that affect the best interests of the child.

North Dakota's judges have also adopted an extensive set of guidelines to help parents deal with the conflicts that can arise during and after the divorce. If the parents cannot agree on their own parenting plan, the guidelines will become mandatory. According to the guidelines, the key to successful child rearing after a divorce is continued communication between the parents. The court's guidelines state that parents should not speak negatively about one another in front of their child, and instead should use positive language when referring to each other in the child's presence. The parents are also encouraged to communicate regularly and openly about such issues as school, grade reports, medical information and visitation by the non-custodial parent. The guidelines contain provisions regarding how to make up a parent's missed time with the children. Modern devices such as the Internet, Skype and similar technology are approved as means of communicating with one's children.

The guidelines are comprehensive and cannot be properly summarized in a single or even several blog posts. The guidelines are available online, and the advice of an experienced divorce lawyer can help parents understand and follow the guidelines.

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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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