Building a Parenting Agreement That Works: How to Put Your Kids First When Your Marriage Doesn't Last

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9781413303599: Building a Parenting Agreement That Works: How to Put Your Kids First When Your Marriage Doesn't Last

Avoid custody battles -- save time, money and grief.

Working out a fair and realistic child-custody agreement is one of the most difficult tasks for parents going through a divorce or separation. Building a Parenting Agreement That Works is the only book to show separating or divorcing parents how to overcome obstacles and create win-win custody agreements.

A professional mediator, author Mimi Lyster sets out 40 issues separating parents typically face, and presents all the options to resolving them. The book walks you through all the factors you must consider, including:

*medical care

*education

*religious training

*living arrangements

*holidays

*money issues

*dealing with changes in an existing agreement

The updated 5th edition includes checklists and worksheets to help you complete the included fill-in-the-blank custody agreement. It also provides the current custody laws of your state.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

Mimi E. Lyster draws on her 18 years of experience resolving child custody and other types of disputes to help families build parenting agreements that make sense and work well. Author of Child Custody, Ms. Lyster is currently a policy analyst with the California Statewide Office of Family Court Services and a Practitioner member of the Academy of Family Mediators. She provides both entry and advanced level training programs for mediators, attorneys and other divorce support professionals, and maintains a limited private practice in mediation, meeting facilitation, and strategic planning. Previously, she has served as a member of the California Dispute Resolution Council, the State Bar's Committee on Legal Services for Middle Income Persons, the Judicial Council's Commission on the Future of the Courts, and as the executive director of mediation programs in both urban and rural areas of California.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Introduction
Before getting started on your parenting plan, you should understand the context in which your parenting decisions will be made.

You Are Not Alone

During the last quarter century, the expectation that two people would meet, marry, raise a family, and grow old together has changed. Studies over the past 10 years have confirmed that couples who divorce will be most likely to do so after about seven years of marriage, and that two-thirds of these divorcing families will include at least one child under the age of six. Statistics also show that more than a million children each year for the past 25 years have lived through a divorce.

Other researchers have commented on the changing structure of the family. During the past 35 years, the divorce rate has quadrupled and births outside of marriage have increased by 22%. Many families relocate every few years, depriving these families of the benefits of living close to extended family. Researchers predict that nearly half of all babies born today will spend some time living in a one-parent family. A family in which biological parents stay together and raise their children to adulthood is now the reality only for about one-third of all couples. The new reality is that most parents will never marry, will marry and later divorce, or will create their families through artificial insemination or adoption.

Keep Your Parenting Plan Focused on Your Children

You and your children's other parent are about to undertake a difficult but very important project: making the best possible decisions about your parenting arrangements. Of course, it may be hard to separate the desire to have nothing more to do with your ex from the task of making decisions that are in your children's interest. After all, separation and divorce exist to solve adult problems, not to meet children's needs.

Even if your separation or divorce will be better for your children in the long run, for the short term most children feel that things are worse. Divorce or separation can shake a child's confidence that he or she will continue to be loved, cared for, and safe. This is true even when children understand the reasons behind the decision.

You and the other parent can help your children by using this book to develop an agreement that focuses on meeting your children's individual needs. The more attention you pay to those needs, the more likely you are to build an agreement that works for all of you.

You and the other parent must honestly assess your relationship as parents and your ability to work together. To keep your agreement focused on your children, you must be willing to trust each other and set aside your anger, frustration, and pain, at least for a while. If you've just separated, you may think it will be impossible to trust and cooperate with the other parent. Many find, though, that trustful and cooperative relationships usually evolve over time. One of the most effective strategies for moving toward this kind of relationship is to build on points of agreement until you have crafted a comprehensive parenting plan.



Dealing With Grief, Anger, Pain, Relief, Fear, and Other Messy Emotions

Some compare the end of a marriage or other committed relationship to a death. The dreams that most of us bring to our relationships are huge. Add a child or children into the mix, and the combination is powerful indeed. Losing those dreams or seeing them fade away will stir powerful emotions in both parents. Add to this the fact that children go through their own worries, losses, and pain, and your divorce is likely to be a very difficult time -- at least at the beginning.

Is all of this "normal"? In many respects, it would be strange if the changes associated with separation or divorce were not terribly difficult at first -- even if you are the one who ended the relationship.

These are times where it makes sense to make space for feeling as if your emotions are "out of control," not knowing exactly how you feel, or wondering whether your feelings will ever settle down again. It is also a time to seek out some support. Powerful emotions are just part of the territory when relationships change or end. It's when you feel alone that the feelings can take over more of your world than may be healthy. Find good friends, relatives, a religious counselor, or trained mental health professional who can hear what you are feeling, and help keep things in perspective. In time, the initial pain and turmoil will lessen, and you will be able to move on to a more balanced frame of mind. Remember to look for support for your child as well. Some children feel best confiding in their parents, others worry about overloading an already-stressed parent, and so try to handle too much on their own.

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Lyster, Mimi E.
Published by Nolo (2005)
ISBN 10: 1413303595 ISBN 13: 9781413303599
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