Whether over special holidays, or during the fairly routine work week in this new age of Covid isolation, it's still a tremendous challenge to create a peaceful shared parenting plan that can work for everyone. Yet there are are ways to make it work and you can customize your own keeping a key bits of good advice we have gleaned from the best advice from experts in the legal custody field.
Shared authority, or joint custody, happens when a court doles out the consideration and care of a youngster in a separation to the two guardians. The court recognizes shared legitimate guardianship or custodians as far as exercises, scholastics and religion, and shared actual authority, where the youngster splits their time among the awarded custodians.
Once you and your ex have been granted shared physical custody of your children, it may take some time to figure out the logistics, coordinate the schedules, divide the holidays, and shuffle the children between the houses.
Thankfully, there is a wealth of good advice out there, and to simplify it down, here are 5 key points to remember that can sincerely help bring peace into your custody situation.
1.) Only Use Your Words to Build Up
Expert after expert (most of whom were divorced) repeated this: don't belittle or disparage about your ex. "Badmouthing the ex will be internalized by the child because they are made up of both you and your ex," says David Pisarra, a father's lawyer at MensFamilyLaw.com and author of A Man's Guide to Child Custody. So despite the fact that you might be angry at your ex, your child actually adores their parent as a parent. Despite your divided emotions about your ex — justified or not — keep them to yourself and the resulting peace will be a life-line to your child.
2.) Joint care isn't about you.
The separation was about you, yet guardianship is about the children. "Separation causes enthusiastic limited focus and individuals get so centered around their own damages and needs that they dismiss the objective of making a decent youth," Pisarra says. Care isn't tied in with getting precisely what you need, or in any event, requesting value at any expense. "The hardest part for co-guardians is recollecting that time with their kids were anything but a prize to be won, rather than a blessing to be esteemed," Pisarra says.
3.) Example Custody Arrangements
When deciding on a custody arrangement, you'll want to reflect on the following points and how best to accommodate them in your plans:
Age of each child and their unique personalities
The family schedule you had - > the one you need to migrate to
The work schedules and social commitments of each parent
Your children's current interests and activities
The child-care arrangements and the distance between the parents' homes.
These are three joint-care-systems we've seen used most often between parents:
Monday and Tuesday with Mom,
Wednesday and Thursday with Dad,
Friday through Sunday with Mom.
Then the schedule trades over the whole week: Monday and Tuesday with Dad, etc.
Monday and Tuesday with Mom,
Wednesday and Thursday with Dad,
Then alternating the weekend, Friday through Sunday between the parents
(one week with Mom, the next with Dad).
This schedule often works better when kids are older and have their own schedule of practices, play-dates, and obligations.
Alternate week plan
Week 1 with Mom,
Week 2 with Dad, and so on.
Infants usually remain in primary care of the mothers, but toddlers and preschool-age children can actually benefit from switching back and forth between households. "Generally, mental health practitioners who specialize in development recommend that for younger children, more frequent transitions actually are beneficial," Wasser says. A 2-2-3 plan allows the child to see both parents regularly. As they get older, kids can graduate to a 2-2-5 arrangement. Then, if it's easier, parents can switch to an alternate week plan."
4.) Find agreeable ways to communicate
For joint child custody to work, real communication is a must. For the sake of your children (and your sanity), you need to find a method of communication that works for you and your ex. "These days we have so many tools with which to organize custody," Wasser says. "There are Google calendars, icalendars, cell phones, texting, and emailing — all which allow parents the ability to communicate with each other quickly." Such tools as calendars, expense logs, common document storage for things like a child's immunization record or school calendar, and a message board that keeps an accurate and non-modifiable record of your communications that can be admitted in court, if disagreements arise. Yet, if used fairly and with the intention of good-will by the parties, these communication tools can really work to keep discussions between you simple and focused on the well-being of the children.
5.) Make Room to let your child feel heard
A child experiences lots of change during a divorce. Allowing the child to express feelings and confusions about the divorce and custody arrangement can help him feel a sense of control in the midst of all that change. Involving your 5-year-old might mean letting him choose which Lego sets he wants to bring to his dad's house. Involving preteens and teenagers in creating a custody schedule can help ensure the schedule works with the teen's extracurricular activities.
Plus, a child who feels that his input was received is more likely to be agreeable to the schedule. No one is suggesting letting the child run the schedule, though they may try. You are still the parents. But it is helpful to let your children feel heard in order to make the best decision for their well being.
Just as your kids will grow and change over time, so should your custody arrangement. Review the arrangements to see if a change would help smooth the waters if children or one or the other parents are having a rough time.
Accepting the new arrangements means change, and these 5 keys are helpful steps in the right direction to still being able to genuinely apply care and compassion to a broken situation.
A lawyer can help continue to advice and support your decision making... just reach out to the Gavenda Law firm for advice or questions - we'd love to help.