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Divorce etiquette? These women wrote the book

Jann Blackstone-Ford and Sharyl Jupe are friends. They work for the same organization. They live just eight houses apart. Their children get along well together.

They’ve also been married to the same man. Ms. Blackstone-Ford’s husband of 15 years, Larry, was first married to Ms. Jupe and is the father of her son and daughter.

So how do these two women not only share custody of those children, but maintain a friendship? Some ex-spouses can hardly tolerate the other being in the same city, no less go to lunch or celebrate Christmas with the ex — and his/her new spouse.

In a word: children.

“Put the kids first,” says Ms. Blackstone-Ford from her house in California. “Get over yourself.”

The two coined a phrase to replace “stepfamilies,” a word they say often has a negative connotation. They decided on “bonus families,” because a bonus is a reward for a job well done. And, they say, “it’s hard work to be a good bonus parent.”

The two co-wrote a book, Ex-Etiquette for Parents: Good Behavior After a Divorce or Separation (Chicago Review Press; $14.95) to help others in blended families find peace with one another.