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Advice for noncustodial parents

If your co-parent was granted sole physical custody of your kids in the divorce, it can be a disheartening decision to live with. It doesn't help that all sorts of myths about noncustodial parents abound -- particularly as shared custody has become more prevalent. Many people believe that noncustodial parents chose not to help raise their kids or perhaps have an issue that makes it unsafe for their kids to be around them.

In fact, many noncustodial parents want to be involved in their kids' lives. They may, in fact, share legal custody even if they don't have physical custody. This means they have a say in decisions regarding their kids' education, medical care, religious upbringing and more. Often, they pay child support to the custodial parent, so they're helping provide their kids with everything they need even if they can't be there for them regularly.

If your co-parent has been granted custody of your children, it's important to make the most of the time you have with them. Whatever visitation schedule has been worked out or ordered, stick to it. It's essential that your co-parent and your kids know they can rely on you.

Try to maintain an amicable relationship with your co-parent. If they successfully fought for sole custody, it's understandable that you might feel resentful. However, mending your relationship with your co-parent can help you if you plan to seek greater access to your kids.

Don't vent your anger, hurt or frustration to your kids. That's what friends, family and therapists are for. Make the time that you have with your children special and enjoyable for them.

Remember that custody and visitation agreements can be modified if circumstances warrant. Talk with your attorney about what steps you can take to improve your chances of getting shared custody in the future. Maybe you would need to move to a larger home that can accommodate your children. Perhaps you need to seek treatment for a substance abuse issue.

In the meantime, make the most of the time you have with your kids -- whether in person, via video chat or through phone calls, texts and other forms of communication -- so that you can continue to be part of their lives.

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