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Attention dads: Keep these issues in mind if you divorce

Fatherhood may be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life and also one of your greatest challenges. If you were to say you have good and bad days as a dad, most Louisiana fathers would be able to relate. When you divorced, those challenges may have suddenly seemed intensified. While you're confident that you made the right decision to end your marriage, it's only natural that you worry about the impact it has and will have on your kids as you move forward in life.  

You hopefully began building a strong support system even before a judge finalized your settlement. Perhaps your community has groups for dads and kids of divorce where you can share experiences, and encourage and support other families who have gone through similar situations. You may want to keep several key issues in mind that can be helpful to you and your children as you adapt to your new lifestyle.  

Spend a lot of time together 

You may feel a need for time alone as you come to terms with the fact that you are no longer married. Each of your kids may long for some privacy as well as they deal with their own emotions. However, it's also critical that you and your kids spend lots of time together, preferably at home. Being home together creates an atmosphere conducive to conversation, which can help everyone open up about how they're feeling and offer one another support.  

If you're going to be a non-custodial parent, it's still a good idea to live within close proximity of your children. If you have a job that requires a lot of travel, you may want to rethink things and determine if it's worth the time you have to spend away from your kids, especially when you're not always under the same roof anymore.  

Always make child support payments on time 

As the parent who does not have physical custody, you'll likely be paying child support. Even if circumstances arise that make your payments no longer feasible, unless you want to risk the court holding you in contempt, it's crucial to keep making payments on time unless and until the court grants a modification, which it can only do if you file a petition requesting it.  

You are generally required to keep making payments as long as your child is a minor or unless he or she serves active duty in the military or your parental rights terminate because of adoption. Several other issues could prompt an end to child support as well. If you have a child with special needs, exceptions to these rules may apply.  

Be honest about new relationships 

Many kids hold onto the hope that it's possible their parents will reunite, and in some cases, it is possible. However, if you enter the dating scene, it's always best to be upfront with your children about any person you might bring home to meet them or take with you to a social event. Saying things like, "this is just a friendship," when, in fact, you know it's more, may not only confuse your children but may lead them to mistrust you.  

How to handle legal issues 

It's no secret that dads often have their work cut out for them when trying to get custody of their children in divorce or simply in trying to amicably interact with their former spouses to keep things as peaceful as possible in the best interests of their kids. If a legal problem arises, you don't have to go it alone. You can seek experienced guidance to determine a best course of action to secure a swift and fair solution to your problem. 

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