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How the family pediatrician can assist during child custody

For many Alabama families, taking care of the needs of their children is a top priority during divorce. Many parents are surprised that their children have trouble opening up about their thoughts or feelings related to divorce and child custody matters. This can be frustrating to parents who sincerely want to assist their children during this challenging time. Such families should consider enlisting the services of their pediatrician to open the lines of communication.

Kids will often open up to a trusted adult who has a degree of separation from the issue of concern. When a child has developed a positive relationship with his or her pediatrician over the years, the child is often comfortable talking about divorce with the doctor. That process begins by contacting the pediatrician's office and sharing the fact that the family is going through divorce. During that phone call, an appointment can be made for an annual physical exam with additional time allotted for discussion about the divorce.

The pediatrician can gain an understanding about how a child is coping with the changes to the family's structure. If difficulty as noted, the pediatrician can assist the family in securing additional services. That might include counseling, access to social services or referral to a pediatric psychiatrist. No two families share the exact same set of needs.

Alabama parents should consider including their pediatrician on their divorce and child custody team. Placing the needs of shared children at the forefront of the divorce process is critical to ensuring a smooth transition for all involved. The family pediatrician is often overlooked resource during the challenging time of divorce and child custody negotiations.

Source: aapublications.org, "Parting ways: New report on divorce addresses pediatricians' role", Ruben J. Rucoba, Nov. 28, 2016

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