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How to make sure you get fair parenting time with your kids

The hardest thing about divorce for many parents is no longer being with your kids all the time. You can miss out on holidays, sports successes or even more mundane moments, like losing a tooth. You want as much time as possible with your children. Chances are, you're asking for shared custody in your divorce. That's a great first step toward ensuring a positive, ongoing relationship with your children during and after your divorce.

Going through a divorce, especially when you and your spouse do not agree on critical terms like asset division and child custody, is rough. Thankfully, things can be a little easier if you focus on your children and protecting them from the worst fallout of the process. If you and your spouse can agree to put the children first, you may be able to get through the process with a fair custody arrangement. If not, you may have to push to maintain your relationship with your kids.

The courts support relationships with both parents

In an ideal situation, parents can equally share physical parenting time and decision-making responsibility with one another. The courts operate under the assumption that an ongoing relationship with both parents is in the best interest of the children. They want to facilitate this as best as possible through the allocation of parenting time, decision-making responsibilities and financial support via child support.

In a contentious divorce, the courts may choose to award decision-making power to one parent to facilitate proper care of the children. Other times, both parents may have to agree on critical medical or educational decisions. Working together and supporting your spouse's decisions, even during a divorce, shows that you have the best interests of your kids at heart and can work together and compromise.

Custody decisions don't always go smoothly

Sometimes, one or both parents can view getting custody of the children as "winning" the divorce. Talking poorly about the other parent or refusing to allow visitation are common methods of undermining relationships between non-custodial parents and their children. The courts generally frown on this kind of behavior, seeing it as damaging to the children and to the critical parent-child relationship. Intentionally damaging a child's bond with his or her other parent is not acting in the best interests of the child.

If you aren't getting to see your children as ordered, you need to keep accurate records of each time your visitation or parenting time was refused. When you do see the children, don't involve them or speak poorly of your spouse. Documenting this violation of the court's temporary custody order during the divorce can bolster your case for shared custody. While it can be frustrating, waiting for a divorce and being denied time with your children, you should keep showing up for parenting time and pushing for your rights.

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