How to Make Shared Custody Work

How to Make Shared Custody Work• Realize that although you and your partner can no longer function as a couple you must continue to function as parents together. Put aside your anger and hurt, and resolve to work together for the good of your child.

• Expect to have disagreements. After all, you did split up for a reason. When you disagree, try not to do so in front of your child, and try to find a way to compromise. It is too late to hope to change each other. You need to learn to focus on your child together.

• Talk to the other parent. You and your ex-spouse must find a way to communicate with each other if you are to parent together. If you cannot communicate, you cannot parent effectively as a team.

 Bite your tongue. Learn not to pursue every argument that comes up. Think of shared custody as a job you must get done. You can’t accomplish your work if you spend all your time arguing.

• Make a list of rules to follow as parenting partners. For example, no arguing in front of the child, be polite to each other, be considerate of the other person when possible and, most importantly, put your child first.

 Form some ground rules about things such as bedtime, how much television is allowed, when homework must be done, etc., and follow them in both houses. Having two sets of rules is too confusing for children. Have some rules for yourselves, as well, such as who will wash the child’s clothes, where school and sports equipment will be kept, who will buy clothes, etc.

• Set up a schedule, and follow it. Sit down with a calendar, and decide where the child will be each day. Write it down, and make sure you both keep a copy. Make a schedule that will be easy to remember and easy to follow. You don’t want it to be different each week.

• Be flexible. Realize that things are going to come up and changes will have to be made to the schedule to accommodate you, your child and the other parent. The more relaxed and cooperative you both are about this, the easier it will be.

• Plan out a procedure for requesting schedule changes. For example, all nonemergency changes must be requested at least 24 hours in advance.

• Consider your child’s feelings. Many children feel strongly about wanting to have one home base, and experts often say that it is best if a child has one place to call home. Do everything you can to make your child feel comfortable.

 Work around your child’s activities. Don’t make your child miss soccer practice because it is the other parent’s afternoon. Keeping your child involved in activities will help to normalize the situation for him or her.

• Get help if you need it. It can be helpful to work with a mediator to resolve schedule disputes. It can also be helpful to see a couple’s therapist for help in learning to work together as co-parents.

Written by eHow Legal Editor

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  1. Elinor Kinnier says

    Do you have any resources for unwed pregnant mothers regarding the baby’s father – custody, legal issues she should prepare for (or against), etc.? He says he wants involvement but he is showing no signs of support – financial, emotional or physical. He says he wants to be a part of the child’s life but how can she protect herself and her child from his inconsistent behavior? I can’t find any resources on this.

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