Family Law
Divorce
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Child Custody
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You can make joint custody of the kids work

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Joint custody often sounds like a nightmare to divorcing parents. The idea of working together with your ex-spouse on anything, let alone the kids, can sound just about impossible.

These days, however, joint custody agreements are generally preferred by the courts. There’s been a lot of evidence presented that shared custody is beneficial for the children — and that’s the guiding principle behind the judge’s decisions in a case.

Experts suggest the following to help make joint custody work:

1. Treat the situation like a business deal.

If you view your ex-spouse as a caregiver to your children and nothing more, it may be easier to separate your feelings and get down to the business of simply taking care of the kids. View your ex-spouse as an asset to your time management and childcare needs, not competition.

2. Consider the unique needs of your children.

When working out a custody arrangement, consider your children’s ages, personalities, commitments and any special needs. Be realistic about what’s easiest for the kids and opt for a schedule that makes household transitions both simple and normal. Some kids will be fine with switching households on alternate weeks — while others need more frequent transitions in order to feel secure.

3. Make use of technology.

Technology not only allows you easy access to things like shared electronic calendars you can use with your ex-spouse to coordinate activities and care, it serves as a buffer. If direct communication with your ex-spouse often ends in a shouting match, consider using email alone for anything other than polite greetings.

4. Accept that everyone has a different style.

You may not like what your ex-spouse feeds the kids for dinner or the fact that they can play video games all evening. However, as long as the kids are fed, homework is getting done and the kids are safe, you need to realize that you can’t control your ex-spouse’s household. Explain the concept of “house rules” to your kids and save your energy for the important battles.

5. Never belittle or badmouth your ex-spouse.

A failed spouse doesn’t equal a failed parent. No matter what your issues are with your ex, keep your negative comments and feelings to yourself. Your children will benefit from the civility and won’t feel pressured to choose between you.

Remember that child custody arrangements work best when parents work them out together.

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