Child custody issues often cause disputes or stress between co-parents. Even when they’re trying to get along, things just don’t always work out as smoothly as they would like. In some cases, parents actively work against each other because they’re just not on good terms.
That being said, there are a lot of things that you can do to make this process go smoothly. If that’s your goal as you and your spouse get divorced, here are some things to keep in mind.
Plan for complications in advance
If something is likely to warrant or require a deviation from the standard schedule, talk about it in advance. Examples could be where the children are going to spend the holidays, which parent is going to have them on their birthday and what you’re going to do during summer vacation from school. These are all areas where parents can have very different ideas of what they want and things can grow contentious. But planning in advance can help to avoid complications and disagreements.
Stick to the schedule, but be flexible
If you’re thinking about trying to make a last-minute change to the custody schedule, you need to understand that this can be very difficult for a co-parent – and may be impossible. At the same time, if you can be flexible, things will be a bit easier. Remember that children’s needs can change on a dime, and things may not always work out as perfectly as you hoped. Flexibility can allow you to accommodate your children’s needs.
Focus on communication
Above all else, you and your ex need to be able to communicate effectively. When you need to make changes, talk about them. Include your children in these conversations (when appropriate), and find out what they would like. If you have minor issues, bring them up before they turn into something major. When communication is effective, things do tend to work out much more easily.
Child custody is certainly complicated. It’s very important to understand all of your rights. You also need to know exactly what obligations you have under the custody order as it stands. Seeking legal guidance proactively, whenever necessary, can help to ensure that everyone’s rights and interests remain protected as a co-parenting situation evolves.