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The need for cooperation doesn't end when you leave the mediator's office.

The end of a marriage or other romantic relationship is never easy. In fact, divorce and child custody disputes are notoriously difficult and often erupt into heated courtroom battles.

In an effort to avoid making a hard situation worse, many divorcing couples choose mediation to resolve their divorce and custody issues.

Mediation offers many benefits, namely the opportunity to resolve many hot-button issues, such as property division, spousal support and child custody in a more amicable manner. However, it is important for divorcing couples to remember: the need for cooperation doesn't stop just because mediation is finished.

Parents need to continue to work together.

A divorce ends a marriage, but a co-parenting relationship will last a lifetime. When parents fight, everybody suffers, but perhaps no one more than the minor children. This is why it is especially important for parents to keep the spirit of mediation alive after the legal issues have been resolved.

This is often easier said than done. So, how can you continue to work together after the divorce is final?

Be understanding.

Schedules change; work meetings run late, people get sick. Be accommodating if your ex-spouse needs to change your parenting arrangement from time-to-time. You may need them to accommodate your schedule some day.

Help each other out.

Parenting is not easy, and kids often test the limits. Your ex-spouse may face a parenting challenge they cannot handle on their own. Be there for them when these situations arise. Remember, helping your ex-spouse be a better parent benefits your children.

Get on the same page.

Kids need consistency. Having radically different rules and expectations at each house will only create confusion and possible hostility. While it's ok to have different parenting styles it's important to get on the same page about the big issues such as school, religion and discipline.

Keep your kids out of it.

Kids aren't bargaining chips and they should never be used to punish your ex-spouse. When disagreements arise make sure arguments never occur in front of your children.

Keep calm.

Yelling is not an effective way to communicate. The calmer you stay during arguments the more likely you are to reach an agreement. If an argument is becoming heated, take a break and take the issue up again later after you've had a chance to cool down.

When all else fails, get the mediator involved.

If parenting arrangements need to be permanently altered, or modifications to spousal or child support are necessary, contact your mediator. He or she will be able to help you and your ex-spouse make new arrangements in a more peaceful manner.

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