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Tips to protect a child's best interests during, after divorce

One of the top priorities parents have when they divorce is to safeguard the best interests of the children affected by the split.

As noted in the Alberta Family Law Act, this means identifying arrangements that protect a child's safety and prioritizing solutions that best meet a child's needs and circumstances. This can seem difficult and overwhelming, particularly for parents who may be involved in a contentious divorce. However, there are steps parents can take to protect their child's well-being.

Aim for amicability

A contentious divorce can be difficult on all parties, including children. Seeing parents fight in court or spend months stressed or angry can take a toll on a child.

Therefore, parents may want to strive to resolve divorce-related matters outside of court. Parents who do this could find it easier to remain civil with each other and avoid the stress and contention that may come with litigation. They can also find it is easier, faster and more cost-efficient to avoid court, which can benefit everyone.

Separate the person from the parent

A person can still be a good parent even if he or she was a bad partner. Remember this as you discuss matters like child custody.

In most cases, it will be in a child's best interest to have frequent, consistent contact with both parents. Unless the other parent is abusive, neglectful or otherwise harmful to a child, creating a plan that allows a child to spend time with both parents can be valuable.

Keep communication open

During and after divorce, parents should strive to keep communication open and honest with children. This can show kids that they are important and have a voice. It can also help them understand what is happening and how it affects them.

Younger children may need frequent reassurances of parental love and support; preteens may benefit from age-appropriate discussions about the changes that come with divorce; teens might need the freedom to talk to either parent whenever he or she needs to.

There is no one solution when it comes to protecting a child's best interests in a divorce. However, avoiding contention, focusing on what the child needs and talking things out are all good places to start.

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