Joint custody is when a court awards the care of a child or children to both parents after a separation. After this, next comes the bit of figuring out how you co-parent. From coordinating schedules, shuffling a child between houses, and dividing holidays, coming up with a plan can be tricky. It is even worse when the parents are just from a heated divorce because drafting a joint custody agreement will be harder. You and your ex are simply humans, and it is okay to feel hurt about the other party’s actions. But what you should do, is try and keep all the feelings aside and work towards a healthy co-parenting relationship. Here are some helpful tips to help parents navigate joint custody.
Co-parenting means staying in contact with the other parent to talk about the kids. While the relationship between the two of you can be strained, you can choose to approach it like a business relationship. In this context, your children are like the ‘business’ where both parties are doing their best to see it succeed. That means being cordial, neutral, and respectful to each other. Try and stay away from statements that can sound like demands instead of requests. Also, work on listening to the other person’s needs.
Choose Your Battles
Co-parenting is never easy, especially in the beginning. Both parents are navigating a new territory, meaning it is easy to throw blame around. Try not to analyze every little thing your partner is doing or wait for them to mess up so that you attack them. If you keep looking for reasons to fight with your partner because of their parenting style, you are sure to find one. Stop looking and focus on working together for the benefit of your child. If you are still hurt about how the relationship ended, consider going for therapy or talking to your friends.
Do Not Block the Other Parent From Seeing The Child
Even if you disagree with the court’s decisions about joint custody, never attempt to block the other parent from seeing the kids. It is a crime, and it will land you in trouble. If you have any reason to believe that the other parent might risk the life of your child, work with your child custody lawyer to collect evidence and present it in court. On the other hand, if you are the one being blocked from seeing your kids by the other parent, you should also consult with a lawyer. They will guide you on what legal actions to take.
Be Realistic About Schedules and Commitments
When negotiating a custody schedule, keep in mind that, at some point, you will also need time for yourself. Whether it is to go out with a friend, enjoy some alone time, or work, you will have other commitments apart from the child. Avoid unrealistic custody grabs fueled by insecurities. You have two kids with different schedules plus a full-time job. Why would you want to stay with both children every day? It is okay to give up some control and remember that your life will not solely revolve around the kids.
Even if you have been given a court order, it is okay to make changes to your joint custody agreement to accommodate different schedules. If one parent wants to take the child to a family reunion, but it is your weekend, be open to switching things up. Holidays, vacations, and family events are special moments in a child’s life, and there is no point in letting power struggles get in the way.
When you come up with a co-parenting agreement, it is good to consult with a child custody lawyer to help you put it in writing. That way, it becomes easier for everyone to do what is expected of them.