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Collaboration and communication help your child through divorce

Child custody is rarely a simple issue when it comes to divorce. The best interests of a child are at the forefront both parents' minds - but maybe most critically in the mind of a judge, who will play an obvious and significant role in deciding custody and child support. Two matters that need to be decided in child custody disputes are legal custody and physical custody.

In most cases, legal custody is not disputed because it is assumed to be a shared between the parents. Legal custody allows a parent to decide the education, healthcare and general upbringing or lifestyle of a child. It is physical custody that is most controversial, along with the child support decision that follows.

Once custody and support are decided and the divorce is finalized, you and your former spouse must still work together to raise your child. There are things you can do that prevent unintentionally affecting the development of your son or daughter.

A big pitfall in a post-divorce relationship is letting differences of opinion upset you and cause bitterness towards your former spouse. It may be difficult to remove the emotional nature of your divorce from future dealings with your ex, but it greatly improves your relationship with your child. One child psychologist described these types of disputes as poisonous to the family.

"You may win the argument in that moment, but you are stuck with lots of resentment. Resentment has memory," he said. Resenting your former spouse leads to further arguments, which only alienate and upset your child. If your son or daughter does ask about the divorce, keep things simple and leave divisive moments out of the equation. They should only be dealt with by you and your spouse.

Source: St. Louis Today, "Stability, consistency support children of divorce," Janice Denham, Feb. 29, 2012

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