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Gosselin custody battle holds lesson for every divorced parent

A little over a decade ago, Jon and Kate Gosselin's family fascinated America. The couple, already parents to twin daughters, added sextuplets to the family -- and a reality television show propelled them all into the limelight.

It wasn't long before viewers got to watch the couple's marriage fall apart. The couple had an acrimonious divorce just a couple years after their reality show started. Kate got the physical custody of the kids and continued the (revamped) reality show without Jon.

Nearly ten years later, the custody battle between the two still isn't over. While Kate often criticized Jon for his lack of parenting and immaturity, he has claimed that Kate sabotaged his relationship with his children. However, things may be changing. While his oldest two daughters and four of the sextuplets aren't speaking to him, Jon now has full custody of one daughter and one son.

The son was placed in his custody after Kate failed to show for a hearing in court over the issue. Previously, the teenager hadn't seen his father in three years and had been in a residential treatment facility for the last two. However, he asked to live with his father rather than his mother.

In general, it appears that the Gosselins are unable to co-parent effectively. Now, the court has even found it necessary to appoint a guardian ad litem to represent the children. This seems to be turning the tide in Jon Gosselin's favor.

Here are some important things people can learn from the Gosselin's situation:

First, a guardian ad litem can be a powerful tool if you believe that your ex-spouse is wrong about what's best for the children. Because they represent the children as impartial advocates, judges typically rely heavily on a guardian ad litem's recommendations. A guardian ad litem does not merely advocate what the child wants, but makes recommendations based on what is in the child's best interests.

Second, contentious custody battles are never fully settled until the youngest child reaches adulthood. Custody modifications are filed all the time, especially as children mature into teenagers.

Sometimes you can't avoid a custody battle. You can't craft an effective co-parenting agreement with someone who isn't interested in being agreeable. If you're locked into a dispute with your co-parent, your attorney can help you protect your rights and do what's best for your children.

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