If you're facing a child custody case in Massachusetts, you likely already have many questions going through your mind. With today's many different types of custody arrangements, including joint and shared custody, the reality is that the vast majority of cases result in a plan that requires both parents to cooperate with one another and share certain aspects of both physical and legal custody.
So how can two people who may not be on the best of terms work together to ensure the custody arrangement works for their children?
Here are some tips and suggestions for those parents dealing with a shared custody arrangement.
Though these arrangements can be tricky, it is usually best for everyone, especially the children, to find a way to rise above differences with the other parent and work together effectively.
The first recommendation is to avoid trashing the other parent. Though you may have just emerged from an emotionally exhausting divorce, speaking badly about the children's mother or father in front of them is exactly the wrong thing to do. Not only will it make it that much more difficult to forge a healthy relationship with that person, but it can actually harm the children, given their love for the parent.
Making negative, demeaning, or unkind remarks is universally decried by parenting experts and should be avoided at all costs.
Parents preparing to embark on a shared parenting arrangement need to also keep in mind that the custody schedule isn't about them, it's about the kids. Though divorce can understandably be a very self-obsessed time, worrying about your own hurt and future, you would be well served to take off the blinders when it comes to co-parenting and realize the goal is to raise healthy, happy, well-adjusted children. Just this realization alone can be enough to help get over residual anger with the other parent and allow much more effective co-parenting.
Another tip for parents preparing to share custody is to remind yourself that just because someone was a bad spouse does not necessarily make them a bad parent. The reality is that even lousy husbands can be great fathers and lousy wives can be great mothers. The fact that you feel betrayed or disrespected should have nothing to do with his or her relationship with the kids. Trying to keep this in mind will help you work better together as parents.
Communication is key in shared custody arrangements, and you should consider which method works best for you and the other parent. Is talking in person too stressful? How about phone calls or text messages? Is email the best way to keep in touch and up-to-date, or is it too likely to result in misinterpretation? You know yourself and your history with the other parent, so spend some time thinking through which methods of communication are likely to be the most effective tools to keep in touch.
A final suggestion for Massachusetts parents preparing to share custody is to pick your battles. Just like in a marriage, it is important to not make every disagreement a fight to the death. You may need to prepare for years of co-parenting with the other parent, and the only way to get through that is to avoid sweating the small stuff. Stay rational and fight your urge to want to "win." Instead, only go to mat over truly important things.
Should you be in the midst of a divorce or contemplating divorce, contact the Law Offices of Renee Lazar either through email or telephone 978-844-4095 to schedule a FREE one hour no obligation to discuss your situation.