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3 things to consider about custody during a separation

When you're going through a separation, you need to determine who will take care of your child and when. Child custody arrangements are one of the first things you should address when a separation or divorce is in the cards.

For a child, stability is the key to happiness. A routine gives children what they need to feel in control, even though they aren't. They know what to expect every day, which keeps them secure. A separation or divorce immediately disrupts that stability.

Child custody issues aren't typically addressed until the divorce proceedings. Before the divorce is finalized, you still have to care for your child and determine where he or she will live. How can you decide? Here are a few tips.

1. Think about your child's best interests

If your child goes to school locally but you're moving out of state, you might want to consider leaving your child with your ex. Likewise, if you both live locally, sharing custody might end up being a better solution. Think about the situation you're in and how well you and your soon-to-be-ex-spouse get along. If you can work together, sharing custody may help your child feel more secure while going through a hard time in life.

2. Don't allow your child to stay in a bad situation

If your ex has habits that could potentially lead to problems for your child or is dating someone who could be potentially dangerous, you shouldn't leave your child in that situation. Abusive situations, drug use, excessive discipline or other negative situations are unacceptable for children. Report any concerns you have.

3. Focus on your child's interactions with family

Look at your family's structure. With whom does your child spend the most time? Who is supportive of your child and involved in his or her life? Encourage your child to maintain these relationships and develop a visitation or custody schedule that allows him or her to continue these relationships easily.

These are a few things to consider if you're separating from your spouse. Your child has to come first, so put his or her interests before your own.

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