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Contrary to what you may believe, your divorce does not need to be nasty. While it will probably be painful and difficult at times, you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse may be able to work together to get an amicable divorce. It will be better for everyone-including your kids-to divorce as quickly and harmoniously as possible.

So how can you avoid wasting years and tons of money in a contentious divorce? Here are some guidelines for ending your marriage as smoothly as possible.

1. Surround yourself with supportive people

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Parent-teacher conferences are often a joyous occasion. In addition to meeting your child's teachers and getting acquainted with their curriculum, you may learn about your kid's success in class and hear more about her or his academic strengths. You will likely emerge from the conference a proud parent, but the stress from sharing the time with your ex may put a damper on the excitement and pride you should be feeling.

It is important to develop some co-parenting strategies prior to attending the parent-teacher conference. Utilizing the following tips can help prevent tension and ensure the meeting is a productive discussion of your child's academic performance.

1. Stay focused on goals

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If you entered into a prenuptial agreement, you need to know how its provisions can affect the course of your divorce proceedings.

Signing a prenuptial agreement can be a good way to protect your finances in the event of a future split. While the law generally wants people to have the freedom of choosing what to agree on, there are some areas where courts are unlikely to enforce prenups.

Prenups must be in writing

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Getting a visit from Child Protective Services is one of the things a parent dreads the most. Finding out that someone is questioning your parenting skills and feels as if the state needs to intervene can be a frightening, infuriating and humiliating experience. However, you are far from alone. Countless parents in Texas and elsewhere receive visits from CPS, and most cases find a resolution without having the children taken away.

Even so, this can be an uncertain time as you worry about the outcome of your case and whether you might lose your children. If you get a knock on your door and it turns out to be a social worker with CPS, stay calm and remember the following tips:

  • Ask to see the social worker's warrant. You do not have to let CPS into your home without a court warrant, no matter how intimidating they are.
  • You can tell the social worker you need time to get in contact with your attorney. The worker will likely schedule another visit, but this will give you time to prepare for the visit and seek legal counsel.
  • The social worker may return with law enforcement. You may ask again to see a warrant, but the law may require you to let the CPS worker into your home this time.
  • During the visit, remain polite but answer questions briefly and to the point. Do not offer additional information or appear overly helpful. The CPS worker's job is to make sure your children are safe and well cared for, but he or she is not your friend.
  • Ask for the social worker's contact information. A business card is ideal. If you decide to record the visit for your protection, you must inform the CPS worker that you are doing so.

It is possible that CPS may remove your children from the home, depending on the social worker's judgment. If so, do not panic. You may provide names of relatives or other people you trust for CPS to consider entrusting your children with while they work on your case. When you cooperate with the agency and law enforcement, you improve your chances of getting your children back sooner and closing your case.

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Depending on your relationship with your ex-spouse, co-parenting may not be easy, and it may become especially difficult during the holiday season. Whether you have or are seeking full or shared custody, you want to create the best possible environment for the kids, which in many cases is spending time with both parents.

Having a specific plan for the holidays can be quite helpful. There are a few things you should consider in your co-parenting plans through the holidays.

Know the decree

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