It's no secret that divorce is difficult for little ones. No parents want their kids to face the heartbreak that's inevitable with the breakup of a family. However, it's not all doom and gloom. There can be positive parts of a divorce, and it can even enhance the life of each family member in different ways. Follow these tips to make joint custody as easy as possible for your kids.
Try to Be United with Your Ex as Co-Parents
Divorce doesn't have to lead to a lot of continuous conflicts. In fact, once the pain of the break-up subsides, you may find that you have a better post-divorce relationship with your ex than you did in some parts of the marriage. Talk to your ex about joining together as united co-parents in many aspects of your kids' lives. For example, you may share dinners and special events.
If it's too difficult to see your ex face-to-face, try to work out a way to still present a united front. For example, you may email each other on a daily or weekly basis to update each other on the kids' lives, their schoolwork, their extracurricular activities, and discipline problems you both may have with them.
Try to agree on one method for handling issues so that kids have the consistency no matter which household they're in. For example, you should both put kids in a time-out for breaking a certain rule. Otherwise, it can be confusing if kids get different methods of discipline from house to house. Openly communicating helps alleviate stress on all members of the family.
Think of Ways to Simplify the Custody Exchange
Some children can get anxious about their parents seeing each other during a custody exchange. However, you can make things easier by simplifying the custody exchange so that it's a no-pressure situation for kids. For starters, always be on time. You don't want to be too early because that can mess up the other parent's schedule, but being late is especially frowned upon.
If your ex doesn't hesitate to cause conflict in front of the kids, suggest an exchange where the two of you aren't face-to-face. For example, your ex may park in front of your house to drop the kids off, yet you won't have to see him or her. Instead, you can be at the door to greet your children. Your ex may simply supervise from the vehicle until your kids enter the home.
Try to put on a happy face when you are reunited with your kids in a custody exchange. Create fun little traditions like asking about their favorite part of the weekend or giving them a small gift like a sticker or pencil top. Likewise, act cheerful even if you're sad when your kids go to your ex's place for a few days. Use cheerful tones and encourage them to have fun.
Be Flexible When Possible
Working around each child's schedule will be a puzzle that you and your ex need to solve together. It's important to be flexible when you can be. Carefully consider what's in the best interests of your children and what's practical for your ex. Mutual kindnesses can increase the sense of goodwill between you two, and your ex may be more agreeable to things you request.
Emotions can run high within the joint custody situation. Try to anticipate that your feelings will get hurt at some point, and you may accidentally hurt your ex's feelings. The important thing is to keep the children at the center of the decisions that are made. You and your ex may dislike each other's choices, but try to accommodate last-minute emergencies and special situations.
Finally, joint custody isn't right for all families, but it can often work well. Whether you want to share custody with your ex or you have to because you're obligated to do so, adopting a positive attitude can help you and your children accept the custody arrangement. Contact James Parrish Coleman, Attorney at Law with any family law questions or concerns you have.