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Parenting: An imperfect art in or out of marriage

Being a parent is not easy. Being an unmarried parent or parent after divorce is no easier. If anything, many would likely agree that trying to foster and maintain a workable family model is more difficult when the parents are not together.

Pennsylvania law seeks to do what it can to support positive family life. On the one hand, it acknowledges the need to honor the realities of the adults' relationship. On the other, the courts are required to ensure that any custodial arrangement options proposed serve the best interests of the children. Every case is different, and if we accept that there is no such thing as a perfect solution, care in developing parenting plans becomes clear.

What sparks this observation is a recent article published on Time.com. In it, a divorced mother explains how raising her son with her ex-husband is the most difficult task she's ever faced. As she lays things out, it is clear that it is not for lack of trying - by either parent. She describes how they have tried nearly every custodial model possible - nesting, cooperative parenting, parallel parenting and co-parenting.

That last one seems to be the one that has been relied upon most. Co-parenting is generally held as the model that is as close to the social family norm possible, and so it is that Pennsylvania law prefers that the parents develop their own plans, even in cases of contested custody.

However, in the article, the author offers the opinion that after five years of co-parenting effort, there is nothing natural about it. She does not suggest that divorcing was wrong. Rather, she says she has learned the value of more realistic expectations. In her words, "Let go of the family you thought you'd be and accept the family that you are."

One thing that will help is being confident that the attorney you engage understands the nature of the challenges parents always face in fulfilling their calling.

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