Twelve Commandments for Divorced Parents

1. Make visitation arrangements directly with the other parent. As children approach adolescence, they should be included in the process; however, the parents should be the final decision makers.

2. Never suggest visitation arrangements with your children that you have not previously discussed with the other parent. Always confirm with the other parent any visitation arrangements made with adolescent age children.

3. Send and return children who are clean, well-rested and fed. Do not send or return a suitcase full of soiled clothes.

4. Do not use a telephone answering machine to screen calls from the other parent or limit telephone access between your children and the other parent - except after your children's actual bedtime.

5. Do not discuss divorce disputes with your children or allow them to hear you discussing your differences regarding your child's other parent. This means children should be absolutely out of hearing distance from such discussions (preoccupied by television, the computer or other activities in the next room does not count!)

6. Do not send messages or money with your children.

7. Do not speak ill of the other parent - or of his or her relatives, friends, or loved ones.

8. Do not ask your children for information about the other parent's household, friends, relationships, income or activities.

9. Do not believe everything you hear from your children, but do not voice your doubts to them. Take time to thoughtfully check out the information with the other involved adults before taking action.

10. Do not second-guess the other parent regarding discipline, rewards, or anything else.

11. Give a sympathetic ear to your children, but affirm and reaffirm as often as necessary that you are not a referee or a mediator between your children and the other parent.

12. Be courteous during child drop-off and pick-up. Do not honk your horn for your child to come out. Walk to the other parent's door, but do not go inside unless invited by an adult. Have the children ready to go. Always be on time. Smile!

© Neal Meiselman, Esquire; www.mdfamlaw.com; printed with permission