‘Every other weekend,’ ‘alternating holidays,’ and ’’ are all familiar terms for divorced parents and children navigating their custody arrangements. Co-parenting with your ex-partner can provide your children with their desired stability and close, loving relationship if done well, but it’s hardly ever easy.
Here are some practical tips (from personal experience) for managing the transition and making things easier for the co-parented children and yourselves:
A fresh slate is not likely attainable, but it’s still advised for you to start thinking of your relationship with your ex as a completely new one. As co-parents after divorce, not only are priorities exceptionally different, but the emotional tools needed for a cooperative relationship are also entirely different.
Signing divorce papers can be a liberating feeling, but it doesn’t erase any anger, resentment, or hurt that you may also be feeling. Of course, it’s fine to be hurt and angry, but it’s best if you figure out how to not let these feelings dictate your behavior. Building a cooperative relationship with your ex-partner and custodial co-parent will likely require to you to manage your anger.
The most important emotional advice to be offered, in this sense, is to get your feelings out somewhere else. Venting to your child is an absolute ‘no go.’ Likewise, blowing off steam at your ex is a waste of the little time available for you and your ex to communicate about important parental logistics. Seek out good listeners, lawyers, therapists, etc., and exercise as much as you need to in order to communicate effectively as a co-parent. Don’t shy away from setting a business-like tone of cordiality and neutrality because you’re setting a communication pattern that is going to be necessary for the length of your children’s entire childhood – if not longer.
Establish a Routine Early On
Although your children are bound to adapt relatively quickly to the changes in their family setting, establishing clear rules and routines early on can really help your child’s acclimation run smoothly. Waking up in different beds on alternating weeks can be disorienting regardless, but if the rules and boundaries are clear within each house, there’s an immediate orienting effect. And it’s certainly not overkill to ink out rules or schedules. Now that you’re living separately and there’s less time for negotiating parental and logistical plans, don’t be afraid to put things in writing for the benefit of your child and your own peace of mind.
Web Tools to Manage Shared Custody
When you reside away from the other custodial parent, a plentitude of logistical nightmares can emerge related the financing and scheduling your parenting duties. Aside from paid shared custody tool websites, of which there are many, you can also utilize existing free web tools to manage the complex logistics and tasks of co-parenting from a distance.
Try using Paypal to manage fund transfers for everything from child support to sharing your child’s medical bills. It’s quicker than most other options, especially if you don’t live close to your ex, and it records every transaction in order to keep both parties in the know about your child’s expenses. Likewise it would be even clearer, with long chains of transactions, to log expenses in a spreadsheet on Google docs. Set it up to allow both parents access to update and try this template for starters. A similar spreadsheet could be utilized to track visitation hours with as much transparency as possible.
I realize that managing joint custody can be overwhelming emotionally and physically. When I walked out of awith signed divorce papers in my hand, I thought most difficult part was behind me. It turned out to be much more complicated than I had anticipated. I learned from many of our mistakes and you will too. But most of all, I hope these tips empower you to take an active role as a parent.
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This is a guest post by freelance writer Kate Simmons for Richard D. Palmer Law who can help you with marital and family law.
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