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Tips for Successful Co-Parenting

A divorce can tease out the worst sides of both you and your ex spouse, creating a vacuum of pain and resentment in the void between. Cooperating with an ex on a weekly basis may be the last thing you want to do, but a positive co-parenting relationship between the two of you is essential to the emotional and mental health of your child, especially in situations of equal joint physical custody, when balanced co-parenting is most possible. According to research done by the University of New Hampshire, successful co-parenting can help children develop feelings of stability, make them feel less torn between parents, and are less likely to feel abandoned. One immediate concept both you and your ex need to embrace is that like it or not, you’re in this together. For your child’s sake, you must put all of your emotions behind you, and develop an amicable, if shallow, relationship with your ex. You have to see them, you have to speak to them; accept this. It will get easier with time. Develop a good channel of communication. As in you and your ex spouse. According to Psychology Today, Research indicates that burdening your child with your adult issues promotes feelings of helplessness and insecurity, which can cause children to question their own strengths and abilities. Do not make your child your messenger or your primary source of information about your exes life, especially if your tone is negative. Have that conversation with your ex yourself, and leave your child out of the conflict. Good communication only occurs if you both stay focused on your joint goals...

What is Parental Alienation?

Child custody issues can be contentious and stressful for parents and children alike. However, when parents have a strained or adversarial relationship with each other, things can be even more difficult. “Parental alienation” is the term for when one parent actively undermines the child’s relationship with the other parent by denigrating the other parent in front of the child. In essence, parental alienation means one parent is taking calculated steps to isolate the child from the other parent through words and conduct. These actions create a division between the child and the other parent, and serious alienation can cause estrangement or even hostility between the child and the other parent. Parental alienation is particularly troubling because it can have long-term, harmful psychological effects on the child. By repeatedly keeping the child away from the other parent or telling them that the other parent does not want to see them, the child’s future relationship with the other parent will be forever altered. Parental alienation does not always come in the form of direct parent-to-child conversations. Examples of parental alienation include: Parent-to-child comments that speak negatively of the other parent. This may include blaming the other parent for the divorce or separation, saying the other parent does not love the child, or making harsh criticism of the other parent’s conduct. Allowing others to make negative comments about the other parent in front of the child. These comments most often come from grandparents or siblings. Involving the child in the divorce/custody case unnecessarily is another form of parental alienation. One parent may share false or distorted details about the case or falsify...

Is Your Child Adjusting to the Divorce?

During a divorce a parent’s first priority is usually to make sure that their child is processing everything in a healthy way. They do their best to inform their child or children of what is to be expected during the divorce process, and they remind their children that their parent’s love them no matter what. After the divorce is finalized, the parens probably feel relieved and as if everything can finally settle down. For the child, however, the time after the divorce is equally important to their adjustment. It is important for parents to pay attention to subtle signs that indicate if their child is coping positively. Here are a few signs that usually mean your child is coping with the divorce: Your child is maintaining their own personal behaviors and routine Your child seeks affection from both your and your spouse Your child is empathetic to other children or pets Your child expresses excitement about the future and upcoming events Your child is staying involved with activities and friends Your child is maintaining their grades and handling their school work You child is talking with and asking questions of both of the parents If you feel your child is not exhibiting these signs, they may not be adjusting positively. Talk with your child about the divorce and enlist the help of a child therapist if necessary. Luckily, in addition to utilizing a therapist, there are many things a parent can do to help their child adjust. Family therapist Isolina Ricci, PhD, offers up several tips on how parents can help children cope. There are a few things to...
Can Parents Make Arrangements to Waive Child Support?

Can Parents Make Arrangements to Waive Child Support?

Every divorce is different, and as such, it might make sense for you to want to waive your claim to child support. In certain cases, you might want to waive child support in exchange for the other parent waiving visitation rights or making another type of concession. However, under California law, neither parent can legally waive his or her responsibility to pay child support. California Family Code Section 4001 states, “In any proceeding where there is at issue the support of a minor child…the court may order either or both parents to pay an amount necessary for the support of the child.” A child’s right to receive parental support is inherent and cannot be waived by either party. Regardless of the parents’ relationship with one another (whether married, divorced, separated, or never married), as long as paternity has been established, both parents are on the hook for child support. Regardless of any arrangement—such as “trading” spousal support for child support—both parents still have a legal obligation to support the child. The issue of waiving child support payments came up in Marriage of Ayo (1987), which further established the parents’ obligation to pay child support. In this case, the court established that the legal obligation to pay child support is much more than a normal debt; it goes beyond a simple “good-faith” obligation to pay and therefore cannot be overruled by the individual parties. (If they could be overruled, that would mean that California law and the ruling of the courts could be thwarted by a simple provision in a contract, i.e. parenting plan.) An agreement to waive child support...