Shared custody is rapidly becoming favored by judges in family courts everywhere — but parents are often leery about making it work. After all, it’s hard to envision working with your ex-spouse on a regular basis (even if it is for the benefit of the children) when you can’t stand to be under the same roof together.
You can make it work.
Here are some of the top tips that experts recommend to couples who are learning to navigate the parenting waters after their divorce:
Separate your marital issues from your parenting issues
Remember, someone who makes a bad husband or wife can still be an awesome mother or father. Agree that when you’re talking about the kids, you will only talk about the kids and your parenting concerns — never about your marriage or divorce. If you must discuss marital issues or the divorce process with your child’s other parent, set up an independent meeting (without the kids around) to do so.
Never speak ill of your ex-spouse to the kids
You’re setting everybody up for problems if you try to paint your spouse as a villain in front of the kids. You could damage your child’s relationship with their other parent unnecessarily, create undue stress on your child and even put your custody at risk (if the judge gets wind of what you said).
Take control of your custody plan
If you want the most freedom from your custody plan and minimal court interference in your parenting, commit to the process of working out an agreement with your ex-spouse that you can both accept. You may not get everything you want — but you’ll still retain more control over the situation than when a judge has to step in. (Also, keep in mind that custody plans need to be periodically revamped as your children age and their needs change.)
Find an acceptable way to communicate
Do you always get in a screaming match when you and your ex-spouse talk in person? There’s no reason you can’t text or email instead. Just remember that everything you write could potentially be read in court and keep your tone polite, professional and cool.
If you’re struggling to work out a child custody agreement with your ex-spouse — or the agreement you have just isn’t working — it may be time to learn more about your options.