Joint custody is not a walk in the park: shuffling kids between houses, divvying up the holidays, and coordinating schedules. The good news is that shared custody can benefit both the parents and children when the grownups act civil towards each other. How can you make joint custody work?
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Speak No Evil
Do not speak poorly of your ex, especially in front of the children. When you malign the other parent in the presence of your children, they internalize it and end up losing respect for him/her. No matter how angry you are with your former spouse, your child still needs to respect him/her as a parent. So regardless of how you feel, keep your thoughts to yourself when the little ones are within earshot.
Be Realistic about Your Commitments and Schedule
During separations and divorces, most parents make unrealistic promises in hopes of winning the custody battle. However, you should not stretch yourself too thin; only your children will suffer if you fail to show up. Remove all emotion from the situation and study the facts. When you say that you will be there, make sure that nothing else comes up at the last minute.
It is Not about You
Even if the divorce was about you, the custody arrangement is not. Divorce has been known to cause tunnel vision, where parents become so focused on their own hurt that they forget that the children are hurting too. Custody is not about demanding equity or getting your way. It is about giving your children the best childhood possible after going through a big upset. For this reason, shared custody can only work if both parents decide to set aside their egos and focus on their children.
Choose Custody Arrangements that Accommodate the Children’s Needs
When coming up with a custody arrangement, you should consider the following things:
- Your family schedule
- The distance between your house and your ex’s house
- The children’s personalities and ages
- The extracurricular and academic activities that your children are involved in
- The social and career commitments of both parents
Infants usually stay in the care of their mothers, but teenagers and toddlers can benefit from switching between households.
Pick your Battles
When it comes to parenting, you should learn to pick your battles – avoid conflicts whenever possible. When disagreements eventually occur, you should think about whether fighting is worth it. Fight only for things that affect your children’s lives: parenting time, school choices, and vacations. Fighting over petty issues such as food choices is not worth it. Save your good will with your former spouse for the things that matter.
A Bad Spouse Does Not Mean a Bad Parent
Your ex might have cheated on you repeatedly but that does necessarily mean that he or she is a bad parent. It might just mean that the person is incapable of staying committed to one partner. When your kids are with their other parent, they are with a person who loves them more than anyone else does –aside from you.
How does joint custody come about? It can either be given by a judge or achieved through out-of-court custody mediation services such as those provided by LiaiseSolutions.com. This means that, when possible, you should try to resolve custody issues amicably. If both of you can agree that you want the same thing, you should resolve the issue through mediators. Why should you choose this option? Court hearings can become messy, putting the children through drawn-out custody battles.