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Kids and divorce

Washington children with parents whose marriages end are suddenly faced with a new reality. Explaining divorce and child custody arrangements to kids requires being familiar with how a split will affect the younger members of the family.

Experts say that a major challenge arising in families who divorce is explaining the decision-making process to kids in a way that makes them understand the difference between an ideal world and the real world.

Children need to know that their parents were serious about their marriage and that divorce was not a spur-of-the-moment decision.

Dissolution of marriage will upend the lives of the children involved. Going from circumstances where both parents live in the same household to parents living apart can be extremely disruptive to a child's life. Divorcing parents need to immediately take custody planning seriously so that the kids' transition can be as stable as possible.

Divorcing parents need to determine a residential parenting schedule that will be immediately effective following a split. Parenting plans and custody arrangements target the best interests of the child and are essential in preserving the parent-child relationship.

Parenting plans usually need to be modified as children grow older. Plans created with the best interests of very young children in mind will not effectively address the needs of older kids who have school activities, deep friendships and even significant others.

Sometimes a parent needs to relocate. If this happens, it is imperative to immediately develop a new residential parenting schedule and modify custody agreements as necessary.

Parents can disagree in good faith about the best interests of their children. Custody and parenting plans can be difficult, but hard work by both parents in the beginning will help the child enormously. The more stability and consistency a plan can offer, the better the child will be able to cope with his or her new life.

Source: ksl.com, "Children and divorce: How to help kids understand," Andrew Johnson, Sep. 5, 2012

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