Child custody and child support issues are often singularly looked at as a legal issue. While the legalities are important and an Orlando divorce attorney will play a major role in the divorce’s terms, there are also some things parents should be doing on their own to make child custody work for both parents and children. From sharing holiday time, drop-offs and pickups, and coordinating schedules, it can be a lot for parents in a shared custody arrangement, especially when the two likely didn’t have much to agree on and common ground when married.
Experts Say Cooperation Is Key To Joint Custody Arrangements
Author of “Putting Children First: Proven Parenting Strategies to Help Children Thrive Through Divorce” JoAnne Pedro-Carroll says that studies have shown mutual cooperation, agreement on terms, respect, and proper emotional management are key factors to custody arrangements working out well. Ensuring these qualities are present makes it easier for children and parents alike to adjust to the family unit changes associated with Orlando divorce. How can parents help make sure these factors are present in joint custody? Check out these nine rules.
Nine Rules To Make Joint Custody Work
1. If There’s Nothing Nice To Say, Then Keep Your Mouth Closed
Divorce and child support arrangements can be bitter and full of resentment, but don’t speak poorly about the ex in front of nor to the children. Children are made up of both parents, and hearing negatives can be internalized by the child and transferred into parent-child relationships in ways that have everything to do with the ex as a spouse and nothing to do with them as a human being or parent. Plus, the child, as part of that ex, may feel like the degrading remarks extend to them as well. Remember, while parents may not love each other any longer, the resulting children will always love both. Justified or not, keep negative remarks away from children’s impressionable minds.
2. It’s 100% About The Children
While the Orlando divorce was about two spouses calling it quits, the child support and child custody aspects are all about the children. MensFamilyLaw.com attorney and author of “ A Man’s Guide To Child Custody” David Pisarra points out that divorce can cause a tunnel vision on personal hurts and wrongs that often blinds divorcing parents to the greater good of the children in joint custody. Time with a child is a gift, not a prize, and that gift isn’t in the form of a parent getting equality or exactly what they want. Shared custody is setting egos and wants aside to value what’s best for the child above all else.
3. Be Realistic
Whether it’s insecurity, retribution, or greediness, many parents make unrealistic custody grabs that their schedules and commitments can’t possibly accommodate. Los Angeles divorce attorney and author of “It Doesn’t Have to Be That Way” Laura Wasser suggests to take emotions out of the custody equation and look at the scheduling and commitment facts alone, much as a business transaction would transpire.
4. Factor The Child’s Needs In Making The Custody Arrangement
Consider the following:
- Child’s school, extracurricular, health, and other scheduling needs.
- Child’s age and personality.
- Child care arrangements.
- Travel distance between homes and daily child-related obligations.
When it comes to age, infants are generally primarily with the mother. Toddlers and up usually have an alternating custody plan. Most mental health practitioners recommend the frequent transitions of a 2-2-3 plan for younger children and a more flexible 2-2-5 arrangement or alternate week plan for older children. Here’s how those usually work:
- 2-2-3 plan
On week one, one parent will get the child Monday, Tuesday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday and the other on Wednesday and Thursday. On week two, the schedule flips for the parents. It continues to alternate this way so that the child isn’t without either parent for any extended period of time.
- 2-2-5 plan
One parent get the child Monday and Tuesday and the other on Wednesday and Thursday. Friday through Sunday is alternated between the parents. This is the preferred schedule for older kids that have their own unique schedules and obligations.
- Alternate week plan
Alternates with one week with one parent and the next week with the other parent.
5. Keep The Bad Spouse Element Out Of The Equation
While the Orlando divorce attorney likely asked a plethora of questions about the ex as a spouse during the divorce, this is no longer about the ex’s spousal qualities. The focus is now on parental qualities. Being a poor spouse doesn’t equate to being a poor parent. Study after study has shown that children universally benefit from having both role models in their lives. The marriage might’ve failed, but that doesn’t mean co-parenting has to fail. Just be sure to keep emotional and personal baggage out of co-parenting.
6. Find A Way To Communicate
Communication is key to co-parenting. OurFamilyWizzard.com offers all sorts of calendars, common doc storage, message boards, and expense logs so that both parents can remain on the same page. If face-to-face communication can’t be amicable, then use the technology available to communicate agreeably, effectively, and efficiently. Miscommunications and freezes ultimately only hurt the child.
7. Balance Battles And Challenges
Of course, there will be parenting facets that aren’t always going to be a united front. Some facets will require one parenting challenging the other’s methods, but, in most cases, such conflicting parenting styles can be resolved with open, rational, and direct communication. If an agreement can’t be reached, each parent needs to ask themselves if the battle is really worth having a judge decide the outcome. Pick battles wisely and avoid trying to micromanage each other as joint custody is being tackled.
8. Give The Child A Voice
The child didn’t have a say when the Orlando divorce attorney was called. However, the child should have a heard voice when it comes to child custody. For younger children, this voice might be as simple as which PJs or toys they’ll bring back and forth. For older children, this can mean giving them a say in the custody schedule so that their life is left as undisrupted as possible by divorce. Be open and willing to listen to the child’s frustrations and confusion over custody arrangements. Also be willing to sacrifice to give the child a better sense of control over their own place in the world.
9. Review And Be Open To Adjust The Arrangement
Set up periodic review points, which are usually based on children getting older and changing schedules. Parents often find their own lives changing after divorce. Remarrying, job advancement, moves, and so forth may mean that previous agreements aren’t favorable for the child. Again, this is where communication and honesty become crucial parts of the commitment to effectively co-parent after an Orlando divorce.
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