Tips for Making Joint Custody Work
Couples that decide to end their relationship go through many emotions and worry about the children involved in the relationship. The kids are also sad and confused as well because everyone’s life is going to change and fear of the unknown is prevalent in these cases. There usually is some anger involved between the parents and many times the children feel they are to blame for the break up of a marriage or a relationship. They probably hear fighting about the kids so they become confused and feel they contributed to this situation. This is where parents have to try and work at making joint custody work out, especially if there are new partners involved and emotions are still running high. The worst thing for a child is when the new partner shuns them because they have children of their own or had a new baby with the parent. Make sure when you choose a partner that you let them know that your children are part of the package deal.
Joint custody happens when a court of law gives the care and guardianship of the child or children in a divorce to both parents. The court decides if the custody is going to be legally shared in regards to everyday decisions, and shared physical custody, where the child or children divide their time between the homes of both parents.
Once you both have been awarded shared physical custody of your children, it’s going to take some time to figure out the plans, which includes schedules that need coordinating, holidays and taking the kids back and forth between homes. Sharing custody can be very difficult at times, especially when you can’t agree with the person you’re no longer married to and have ill feelings towards.
There is a rainbow at the end of the tunnel though because these situations work when both of the parents are respectful and cooperate by controlling their emotions in front of the kids. This helps the children to get used to the changes in a healthier way. Here are a few tips.
Avoid negative comments about the other parent
It’s not necessary to speak negatively about ex because your children internalize these comments and know that they came from both of you. The child will react to anything you have to state about the other parent, especially if you say to your child things like “your just like your father or mother”. You can be very angry with your ex but remember your kids still love both of you, regardless of how you feel. Keep your comments to yourself.
Joint Custody is about the kids
The divorce might have been about you but the custody isn’t – it’s for the children. Divorce can cause parents to dwell on the past because they are still hurt so they forget about the kids and making their lives easier. Custody should not be about you and your needs and also not about money. The hardest thing for parents that share custody that the child shouldn’t be used as a pawn to get even because you’re angry. Your child is a gift and should be cherished.
Parents have to get rid of their egos because it’s best when you think about the well being of the children. What is good for the parents doesn’t mean it will be good for the kids.
During divorce or separation, parents often become unrealistic when it comes to custody because they are afraid of losing control. Parents become insecure and should look at custody more like some kind of business arrangement. Take your emotions out of the picture and stick to the facts.
Create a fair custody arrangement
If you both are working on an arrangement, think about the following issues: your kids’ age and personality, the family schedule, both your careers and social outings, academic and after-school activities which your kids attend, child care issues and where the new homes will be. These are some of the most common arrangements.
The first one is called the two-two-three plan. The mother has Monday and Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are reserved for the father, Friday, Saturday and Sunday are with mom and then the schedule reverses.
The next arrangement is the two-two-five plan with the mother having Monday and Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are for the father, and then alternating Friday through Sunday between parents, with one weekend with Mom, the next weekend with Dad. This is a good schedule for older kids who have personal schedules and plans and are more independent and take control of their own plans.
The last plan is to alternate weeks between Mom and Dad so whatever works for you and your family, these are some ideas. Babies and infants usually stay with Mom, and toddlers and preschoolers can benefit from going to the homes of both parents.
Divorce doesn’t create bad parents
Marriage can drive anyone crazy, but just because you both weren’t good spouses doesn’t mean you are bad parents. The best thing for the kids is to have contact with their parents as much as possible. Parenting still goes on for years even if your marriage didn’t. Your children love you and want to feel your love from both of you. Parents should put the needs of their kids first. Parents also have to know that when the kids are spending time with their ex, they love both of you the same.
Communication is key
If you both want this to work, then communicate for the sake of the kids and for both of you. Try and find a reasonable method of communication for both of you. It’s much easier to communicate in today’s world with social media, messaging, texts and cellphones. This can be done very quickly as well. There is a site called OurFamilyWizard.com which has calendars for joint custody, expense reports, and document storage for things like your kid’s health records and school calendar. This also has a message board that keeps information about the communication that can be used in court, in case of a disagreement.
Stick to the arrangement
Life changes over time as your children get older, and so will your custody arrangement. Most parents like to review their custody arrangement over time to see how it’s working for everyone involved. Parents can make adjustments for the kids and for themselves when the situation arises. Eventually, your ex and yourself will become friends, but in the case of an absent parent who comes back into the picture, make sure this is a gradual adjustment and don’t rush into anything if your child or children haven’t seen this parent in a long time.