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From The Experts

We've gathered knowledgeable, dedicated divorce experts from a variety of fields to lend their advice and perspectives. Our experts include lawyers, healthcare professionals, certified professionals, and everyday women with insight into the topics that will help you stay empowered.

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As a newly separating/divorcing mom, a prime objective is to create a parenting plan/custody arrangement that works for you and your children. As long as your ex is not abusive and shows any interest at all in parenting/co-parenting, your children will spend some time with their father and away from you.

You will probably spend more time away from your children than ever before. The truth is, most children need both parents in their lives. Most likely you will have to share your child with the one person in the world you now know you cannot live with and/or who does not want to live with you. This will not be easy.

Here are some other truths to consider as you begin to think about what kind of parenting plan you want:

TRUTH: Your children's needs will change as they mature, while the parenting plan will probably remain fixed — it is very costly to return to court and revise the plan — so be careful what you agree to now.

TRUTH: Information is available on the Internet and in bookstores to help you become educated about the laws in your state and about different parenting plan options that might work for you.

TRUTH: Most custody arrangements are decided by the parents or as a result of mediation, not in formal court hearings. Make sure that if you go this route, it is because you honestly believe that the plan you and your ex have agreed to is workable, not because you have been bullied or manipulated into signing it.

TRUTH: If your case does involve a custody hearing, be prepared to spend tens of thousands of dollars on legal and other professional fees. Also be prepared for unreasonable delays, unfair costs, and other frustrations and discouraging experiences.

TRUTH: If you and the other parent are reasonable, honest, and mature, you can and should accommodate each other's needs as much as possible and within reason. For example, if the other parent is going out of town for business and would like to switch weekends to avoid a long gap away from the kids, you should try to accommodate the switch (as long as it does not interfere with important plans of yours or the children's and as long as you are assured that the switch is actually two-way and not just you giving up your time).

TRUTH: Some parents practice parental alienation - actions and attitudes designed to poison a child against the other parent. Become informed about parental alienation and make sure that you are not an unwitting victim of it. It is equally important to make sure that you are not practicing it yourself in order to bolster your ego, protect your pocket book, meet your emotional needs, or exact revenge on your ex.

TRUTH: Children need their parents to behave like adults so that whatever custody plan is agreed upon will actually work for them.

Click the following to return a directory of articles and resource videos on Kids, Family and Divorce.

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