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Tips for co-parenting and helping children adjust to divorce

For divorced parents in North Carolina, communication, consistency and understanding their children's needs at different ages can be keys to success. It is helpful for children if they can see that their parents are working toward their best interests. Parents may want to talk about how they can make the parenting time schedule run smoothly. This may include a plan for dropoffs and pickups.

It is important that parents never make their children feel as though they must choose between them or keep secrets from the other parent. Children younger than 10 especially need to be reminded that both their parents love them. Parents may also want to remind them a few days before going to the other parent's home to prepare for the transition. They should show enthusiasm for the child's visit with the other parent and encourage them to stick to the parenting schedule.

For older children, parents may need to be more flexible. Children may have extracurricular activities, friends they want to spend time with and jobs. Parents may want to consider including children's friends in their activities. They should also respect the fact that their children might want more autonomy but still need their parents as well. Above all, whatever the age of the children, parents can model responsible, considerate behavior toward one another.

Parents who are divorcing do not necessarily have to go through litigation to get a child custody and visitation schedule. Many parents prefer to negotiate an agreement outside of court, and even if the divorce is a contentious one, they may be able to find a solution using mediation or a collaborative approach. This can lay the groundwork for a healthier co-parenting relationship since unlike the adversarial atmosphere of litigation, these approaches are focused on listening to the needs of all parties and finding a compromise that suits them.

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