If you have kids, don't make divorce you vs. your ex

Do you have children? Are you planning to get divorced? If so, make sure you have the right mindset. You have to put the kids first.

Above all else, this means that you should never turn it into a situation where it feels like it is you vs. your ex. This is true both during and after the divorce. The two of you are parents to your children. Forget about everything else. Don't worry so much about your relationship. Worry about what you do and how it impacts the kids.

One example

For instance, perhaps you did not want to get divorced. Your spouse asked for it.

As such, you feel a fair amount of animosity whenever life gets complicated. Maybe it's harder than it should be to exchange custody of the children. Maybe you wish you simply got to see them all of the time, rather than sharing custody at all. That's the life you wanted all along.

It's fine to feel this way, but don't let it turn you against your ex to the point that you consider things like withholding child support, refusing to exchange custody of the children, belittling your ex in front of the kids or intentionally making life harder for them by undermining their parenting tactics.

Some of these things are actually illegal, like refusing to exchange custody or to pay child support. You have to follow the court order. It doesn't matter how you feel. The order stands.

Other things, like deprecating your ex or undermining their parenting, are legal. The problem is that they still hurt the kids. They hinder their development and their adjustment to this new situation. They make their lives harder. They make them feel the stress of the divorce in a new way.

In some of the worst cases, we refer to this as parental alienation. This is when one parent feels like they are getting cut out of the children's lives because of things that their ex is telling the kids. Not only can this lead to some very serious issues -- legal issues, potentially -- but it means that the children lose their relationship with a parent.

Is that what you want? You know it's best for children to see both parents and be involved in their lives. Do not let your own anger or resentment stand in the way of that.

The other side

Of course, there are always two sides. You may do all of this and find that it's your ex who breaks the custody order or attempts to turn the kids against you. Make sure that you know about all of the legal options that you have if this happens.

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