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Suggested Rules for Divorcing Parents
Tennessee Legal
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"In every marriage more than a week old, there are grounds for divorce. The trick is to find, and continue to find, grounds for marriage." ~ Robert Anderson, American playwright (1917-2009)




Cathy Meyer is a Certified Divorce Coach® and marriage educator. I have summarized her wise rules for divorcing parents.


1. Don't badmouth or criticize the other parent.


Children view themselves as half of each parent, so criticizing the other parent (or step-parent) means criticizing your child.


2. Don’t share details of the divorce.


Parents should not discuss court matters, child support, or financial concerns about their divorce with children.


3. Don't use your children as spies.


If you need to know something about your spouse, find it out yourself. Asking your child to spy on a parent puts the child in the middle and causes feelings of responsibility for the parent’s welfare.


4. Don't argue and engage in conflict in front of your child.


Parental conflict continues the cycle of children feeling confused and caught in the middle. Be supportive of your children and the stress they are under by conducting yourself in a mature manner around the other parent.


5. Don't make your children responsible for making adult decisions.


Children should not be responsible for taking care of matters just because mom or dad stressed out. Make adjustments so that your child can be a child, with normal age range responsibilities.


6. Don't ignore your child when he or she asks why there is a divorce.


Let your child know her or his feelings matter by listening to your child and answering your child’s questions.




7. Don't withhold parenting time to punish the other parent.


A child should have regular contact with both parents. The pain your child would feel because of the absence of a parent is not worth your need for revenge.


8. Don't try to buy your child's love.


Gifts make a temporary impression, but your attention and love make an impression that lasts a lifetime.



James B. (Jim) Hawkins is a Tennessee general practice and public interest law attorney. This column represents legal information, and is not intended to take the place of legal advice. All cases are different and need individual attention. Consult with a private attorney of your choice to review the facts and law specific to your case. To suggest future column topics, call (615) 452-9200.