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Prioritizing my child during custody and access court conflict

Children may experience a great deal of stress and emotional challenges when parents divorce. Child custody and access cases are certainly most challenging for parents and their children.  Children often must adapt to new living arrangements, and they may be struggling with anger and confusion. As parents, you have a great deal of influence over how your child navigates this difficult time.

One of the most valuable things you can do to help your child during and after divorce is making them your priority. 

What does this mean?

Making your child a priority means putting their needs and best interests ahead of your own when doing so is appropriate. 

This isn't always easy. Divorce puts people in some upsetting positions. They must make decisions about dividing finances and their child's care, which can be especially challenging when parties hate or distrust each other. Further, divorcing spouses may be dealing with a legal system with which they are not familiar and trying to manage their own care on top of everything else.

There can also be situations where parents must make decisions that their child does not like - moving out of the family home, for instance.

However, there are several ways parents can show children that they matter and are a priority during a divorce.

Ways to help your children during divorce

To help your child through a divorce and protect their health and well-being, you can take the following steps:

  • Refrain from fighting with your ex in front of your child
  • Put a shared custody agreement in place 
  • Keep hurtful statements about your ex off social media where your child could easily see them
  • Engage the children in programs designed to help them navigate divorce, including those listed here
  • Have them visit a child psychologist (with the consent of the other parent)
  • Talk to them about the divorce and their feelings at an age-appropriate level (it is good to get professional guidance on this first, though.)
  • Foster the relationship between your child and the other parent (this is crucial!)

These actions can show your child that they are loved, safe and important at a critical time when they may not feel so sure. And they could have a tremendous impact on what your child's life - and your relationship with your child - looks like after divorce.

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