We recently came across a very good article in Parents magazine with tips about making joint custody plans work. We thought we would share the information.

Joint custody is an option the court has in both legal and physical custody. Joint legal custody allows both parents equal input and authority in all decisions regarding the children. Joint physical custody refers to the roughly equal periods of time the children spend in each parent’s custody.

When the article speaks of making joint custody work, it refers to joint legal custody – often the hardest part for parents after divorce because communication and trust may have broken down before and during the divorce.

For joint custody to work, both parents must prove to have the ability and the willingness to work together for the best interests of the children.

To make this more likely, let’s look at the tips.

First, never speak poorly of the other parent. This is a good rule in life, and as a parent you are modeling skills for your children to understand to be positive and that words have consequences.

Second, when making decisions, put the interests of the child first. It can be difficult sometimes to feel like you may not be getting your needs met all of the time, but the key is to make sure the children get their needs met all of the time.

Third, when making schedules, be realistic about what you can and cannot do given your work commitments. Also, think carefully about the choices you make, as the children will be sensitive to those choices.

Fourth, when making schedules, consider the ages of the children in how you structure your schedule. Certain arrangements work better at certain ages.

Fifth, you and your former spouse must be able to communicate clearly and dispassionately if you intend to work together. If that is through email rather than the phone, that is fine. Find a mode and a means to make sure you can communicate effectively.

Sixth, listen to the feedback of the child. Every suggestion a child has need not be implemented and ought not, but it should not be ignored or summarily dismissed. Children feel valued when they feel heard.

If you follow these tips, joint custody can be a much more workable and beneficial option for parents and children alike.

If you have questions about joint custody, contact us – we can help.