According to the most recent child custody statistics, 93% of Australian parents share equal custody of their children following a divorce. This means that millions of families are making shared child custody work or are at least following court orders to share parenting duties. However, many couples considering divorce don’t know how to share custody in a way that is most beneficial for the children, especially at first when the situation is so new. These tips for making shared child custody work can help ease the transition into the world of co-parenting.
Remember Who Join Custody is For
The divorce was about you and your former spouse, but the child custody arrangement is about your kids. Your sole goal for co-parenting should be to create a positive experience for your children. This means that even if it’s your turn to have the kids for a weekend, the best thing for your children might be to spend time with your ex-spouse if there’s something special happening. Set aside your ego and think only about what’s the right thing for your kids.
Mind Your Words
As you probably already know, kids hear everything you say. They may not even look like they’re listening, but they are. When you disparage your former spouse, they are internalizing your words. You may be angry with your ex, but your children still love them. If you’re bad-mouthing your ex, your children will feel bad about that love. Even if your words are justified, your children don’t need to know anything about your relationship except that you both still love them and want to spend time with them.
Establish and Keep a Custom Custody Arrangement
Kids thrive on routine, so you need to make sure you establish and keep a custody arrangement they can count on. Of course, your personalized arrangement will be based on numerous factors like the kids’ ages, distance between the households, extracurricular activities, and work schedules, but the key point is that the schedule should be worked out ahead of time. If your children are old enough, allow them to give input on the arrangement, but make sure you always keep their interests at the forefront of any decisions you make.
For example, a child who’s extremely attached to their mother may not want to leave to see their father for overnight visits. You can acknowledge their desire to stay with their mom, but make the final arrangement so that they spend enough time with their dad. By creating the schedule in advance, your child will have time to adjust to it and understand that both parents want to spend time with them.
Pick Your Battles
You’re not going to like every aspect of co-parenting. After all, parenting on its own is difficult and co-parenting just becomes more complex. There are schedules to deal with, personalities to manage, and activities to coordinate. Communication will be the key to successful child custody arrangements, but you’ll still have times when you need to decide whether or not to fight a battle you may not win. Remember that if a court has to decide an argument, neither one of you is going to be fully satisfied. Sometimes, you’ll just need to let things go.
Child custody issues are thorny and complicated, but you can take steps to ensure your co-parenting arrangement works for you, your former spouse, and most importantly, your children. As long as you keep them in focus and base all your decisions on what’s best for them, you’ll be successful in your efforts to make shared child custody work.