The Benefits of Joint Custody and Co-Parenting for your Child’s Well Being

Co-Parenting in a Joint Custody Arrangement

Co-Parenting in a Joint Custody Arrangement

Your child may mean the world to you, but in a divorce, it’s important for parents to realize that spending time with each child is what brings the most value to the child. For some couples, joint custody and  co-parenting is the only option, as it allows each parent to have a say in their child’s upbringing. For others, joint custody is a tough decision, as there may be history of abuse or just personal reasons for one parent wanting sole custody. However, as long as your child’s safety won’t be compromised, you may want to consider these benefits of joint custody.

 

Joint custody encourages co-parenting.

Just because you and your ex have joint custody doesn’t mean you will each raise your child the same and have the same rules and consequences. However, many couples have found that joint custody does create a balance between exes and encourages them to co-parent. After all, by doing so, you and your ex will share the same rules and punishments for each household, and you’ll have someone to back you if your child ever becomes difficult. And even though you’ll be in separate houses, this type of teamwork—while it may be frustrating to your child when they’re in trouble—will also provide a balanced upbringing that provides plenty of benefits.

 

Joint custody encourages shared expenses.

Child support payments and arrangements will vary by state and by case. In some joint custody arrangements, one parent does still pay child support to the other. However, in others, sometimes joint custody eliminates the need for child support payments. No matter how your situation falls, joint custody does encourage shared expenses for the child. For instance, you and your ex can agree to split the cost of doctor bills, extracurricular activities, school registration fees, etc. This helps to ease the burden financially (while also forcing you two to communicate with one another.)

 

Joint custody gives you a routine.

Joint custody arrangements give you and your child a routine, as everyone knows the schedule and what days the child will be with which parent. Not only does this type of routine help your child, but it also lets you schedule your own life. For instance, if you have to schedule something for work or you just want to go out with friends and have a night on the town, you can do so. That’s because you’ll know exactly what days you’ll be free, and you won’t have to worry about finding a babysitter or getting home early.

 

Joint custody makes you enjoy the little things.

As a parent, you know that sometimes your child can drive you crazy, and there will be times when you feel as if all you do is argue, clean up after, or just feel overwhelmed by your child. First of all, this is normal, so don’t feel like you’re a bad parent. And second of all, when you’re in a joint custody situation, you now have a break, which gives you time to appreciate the little things. For instance, since you may not spend quality time with your child every day, it will encourage you to do more fun things and create more lasting memories with your child. In addition, it will also make you appreciate them, as absence makes the heart grow fonder.

 

Even if your divorce was messy and emotional, realize there is a sunny side to splitting custody with your ex. Joint custody is a great way for many parents to remain active in the child’s life and still have access to all the wonderful events that come with raising a child. Most importantly, when you co-parent, it creates a relaxed and safe environment for your child. He or she will know that they are not stuck in the middle of a battle between their parents.

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How to Deal with Single Parenting over the Holidays

Divorce is difficult enough to deal with on its own—add the holidays into the mix and you have the makings of a perfect storm. Divorce proceedings can cause an emotional and financial toll. And in states where one must file for divorce under specific at-fault grounds, it’s important to know your rights. But even when the divorce is amicable, you will need to allow time for your life to adjust.

If your breakup happened before the holiday season, or if this is the first year that you are facing the holidays as a single parent, what will help you cope? Here are some steps you can take that will lighten your load.

Chill on the gift exchange.

Where your household may have been pulling in two incomes, you’re now down to just your own. And even with child support payments, it can be hard to readjust to living on a smaller budget. The holidays are a time when Americans typically overspend on gifts, some to the tune of $929 on average. About 56 percent of those surveyed said they’ll likely go into debt doing so.

Aside from being a source of stress, gift exchanges can be a drain on your wallet that you should avoid. Announce your intentions of easing back on Christmas gifts this year to your family and friends. Instead, offer homemade gifts or coupons for simple activities that can be enjoyed together. Or give to a cause. You may be glad to hear you won’t be the only one trying to cut back either. Others are opting out too.

Plan the holidays in advance with your ex-spouse.

Scheduling conflicts that used to be difficult to manage, even when you were both on the same team, now have the potential to cause greater upset. Consider taking the following actions:

  • If you are not on speaking terms with your ex, ask a good friend or sibling to be the go-between in working out who does what pick up, etc.
  • Pick your battles and learn to compromise. Focus on what will make the holidays the most fun for your kid and avoid looking at it as who is scoring the most points.
  • Plan as far ahead as you can, but also have a back-up plan. Where there used to be you and your partner to handle the unexpected—now there’s just you. This is particularly true if your ex is flakey or has work that can’t be dropped to help handle your emergency.
  • Have a couple family members and close friends who know your situation on speed dial. Look for a trustworthy babysitter. Join a single parent support group. Or find a parenting circle where you can exchange favors. These people will be your support group on those days when you’re stuck in traffic or can’t be at a certain place at a certain time.

Take care of yourself.

While you focus on making the holidays a great time for your kids, don’t forget to take care of yourself. Eating right, getting in 7 to 8 hours of sleep, and staying physically fit are not only health guidelines for kids, but for adults as well. Your emotional, mental, and physical needs should be considered as important as your child’s. Their needs are dependent on you seeing to yours. Some quick ideas to keep you sane during the holidays:

  • Arrange for a sleepover where your kids stay the night with your parents or a sibling. Put on a movie and just enjoy the peace of not having to be anywhere or do anything.
  • Call a sitter and sign up a fitness class or other activity that takes you away from the house. If you’re still at home, you are fair game to all the demands that come with being in it.
  • If family members insist on getting you a Christmas gift, ask for babysitting coupons and cash them in immediately.

Yes, single parenting is not for the faint of heart. It requires you to do the job of two but on less sleep, less time, and less money. But it’s during times like these that family and friends get to prove their worth, so don’t hesitate to reach out and ask for help.

Featured photo source: Pixabay.com

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How to Co-Parent an Adopted Child After Divorce

Divorce is a difficult process for everyone involved for a variety of reasons. You and your former spouse have made a life changing decision, one that is best in the long run, but for the time being it’s a difficult and often tumultuous period.

This difficulty is compounded when you factor an adopted child into the equation. Divorce often brings out lingering attachment issues for adopted children, and reminds them of the loss that they have already faced. While you and your former spouse know that you will both continue to be there for your child, he or she may not be so sure. Here are some important tips for how to co-parent your child during this trying time.

  • Present a United Front: Comfort from both parents will go a long way to helping your child. If you and your former spouse have the ability to speak to your child together about the situation, you should do so. It will show the child that you are both still working together to be her parents, and you can reassure him or her that both of you will still be very much involved in their life. Additionally, be sure to keep up this attitude when it is just you. Though you personally may be hurting, you need to make sure you avoid slandering the other parent or undermining their decisions. It is incredibly important for your child to have support and love from both parents, and know that you both can still cooperate peacefully.
  • Focus on Your Child First: This seems obvious, but during this time it’s very easy to start focusing on the personal issues going on. Your life is also turned upside down by this decision. There is also a larger likelihood of guilt with adoptive parents, as you may hold yourself to a higher standard, or feel that you haven’t held up your end of the bargain with a loving home. You need to push these thoughts away, and tell yourself that the best way to get through this is by focusing on your child first, and giving them stability.
  • Maintain Normalcy: You want to make your child happy, if only for a moment, so you may tend to be more lenient on rules and everyday routines. This can actually be detrimental to your child. Maintain your normal lifestyle and responsibilities as much as is possible during this time.
  • Seek Professional Help: While this is not limited to adopted children, it certainly presents an added component. Children have a tendency to blame themselves or act out after their parents announce their divorce. By factoring in adoption, their latent feelings of abandonment or loss of control can act as a catalyst. It’s important to understand that it is normal for them to act out, and that they may need someone to talk to. Don’t be afraid to take them to a therapist, so they can work out their problems in a safe space.

Adoption and divorce are both complicated, and putting them together creates a very messy situation. Make sure to do research on your specific situation and repeat the mantra: my child first.

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Tips for Co-Parenting Babies and Toddlers

Divorce is often difficult on children. When children are younger, it can be difficult to help them understand what is happening during a divorce. Even more critically, this youngest demographic tend to be the most strongly impacted by their parents divorcing. Thankfully, with a little conscious effort, you and your former spouse can put the needs of your infant or toddler first by focusing on successfully co-parenting your child. The two most critical issues for young children during divorce is reducing exposure to parental conflict and ensuring both parental relationships remain steady and positive.

Insulating Your Children from Conflict

It can damage the child-parent bond if your young children witness repeated, angry fights between their parents. While it can be difficult, you and your former spouse should commit to never discussing or arguing about your divorce when your children are present. Save it for discussion when your children are elsewhere. Even when you think they’re sleeping, your children could wake up and hear things you don’t want them to. Err on the side of caution.

Your children also shouldn’t have to listen to either of you air grievances about the other. No matter how frustrated you are, you shouldn’t tell your children about it. Rely on your adult relationships to blow off steam when you’re emotional about the divorce. Don’t expect your children to listen neutrally when you complain. Your harsh words could damage their relationship with your former spouse or make them feel angry at or scared of you.

Focus on Regularity and Attachment When Dividing Parenting Time

Your children need to keep developing a healthy bond and attachment with both of their parents. While a 50/50 division of parenting time may not be possible, it’s important to create a new routine that allows for time with each parent. In some cases, rotating weekends are ideal, with a few weeknight meals or visits can help ensure that the children are spending quality time with each parent. You may decide that alternating holidays or sharing holiday custody time as a family is the best solution. Just keep it stable and fair to everyone involved.

Regardless of what else is going on, you and your former spouse should agree to uphold and empower one another as parents. Part of that means committing to upholding visitation and parenting time as scheduled, unless there’s an actual emergency. Neither arguments about asset division nor issues with support should not interfere with parenting time for either parent. Your children need you to put their best interests first. The healthiest and most emotionally well-adjusted children have trusting and stable relationships with both of their parents from a young age.

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Helping Your Child Prepare for Summer Visits

Many people notice that there are significant changes in their child’s behavior before and after extended visits with the noncustodial parent. There are set visitation schedules so that children have some structure and understanding of what they are going to do, but it’s a greater benefit to brief your child for an extended amount of time living elsewhere. When a child is used to living in one area and is uprooted to be able to visit with the other parent, things can be incredibly hard for them.

There are many things that you are going to want to do in preparation for your child’s summer away. These are all simple things that can really help your child to feel secure and stable as they are transitioning between the two homes.

Tips to Prepare Your Child for Summer Visits

Help Your Child Get Excited

As much as you might want to keep your children with you forever, the other parent deserves to spend time with them and build a relationship. If you want to help your child to be more emotionally prepared for their summer visit, the best thing that you can do is encourage excitement. Talk to your ex about the things that he/she will be doing with your child and let your child know that fun is planned. Also, talk about all of their favorite activities with the other parent. This is going to really help them extinguish any feelings of nervousness that they might have. While it might be hard for you to watch, you need to be able to understand that this is in their best interest.

Make Something to Help Them Know When They’ll Be Home

You can get as creative as you want. Take the time to make a little something special to help your child know what is going on, and track when they will be back with you. A calendar or a special series of boxes, bags, or cards that they take with them will help them to know when they’ll be home. You may also find that this is a great way to share with your children everything that you love about them and all of the little things that you will miss while they’re gone.

Discuss Options for Communication

You should certainly agree to terms of communication with your ex, before you talk to your child about how you’ll communicate while they are with the other parent. Once you have come to terms with how communication will work, you can talk to your child and let them know the plan. Ask your child what would help them and let them know that you will do your best to be available for regular phone calls, FaceTime, or anything else that they need.

Be Careful with Communication

There are things that you might say that will actually cause your child to have a harder time. If you say things like, “I miss you,” your child might feel like they are the cause of your pain. This could lead them to feeling responsible for your unhappiness when they are not home. You should instead use phrases like, “I love you” and, “I’m thinking about you.” These are all more helpful phrases that you can use to communicate your feelings.

Work with Your Ex on Routines & Activities

Another thing that you should think about is how you can make the transition between homes easier. This will require you to have thorough communication with your ex. You will want to write out and then discuss everything that is normal day-to-day routine for you and your child while they are at your home. Talk about daily activities and things that your children enjoy doing. If your child lives in an area that is far from where they will be spending summers, then help the other parent look for their favorite activities local to them. This can really help your child to make friends and have a great time on their visit.

Teach Your Child that Both Homes are “Home”

When your child feels like one parent’s home is “home” and the other parent’s home is a place to visit, it can cause the child to feel left out and like a stranger in the home where they are visiting. Stress to your child that they have two homes and teach them from the beginning that they are just as welcome at one as they are the other.

 

Being divorced is hard work. Sometimes you have to put aside your personal feelings and really work with your ex to do what is best for your children. You will have to work to find things that you can agree upon for the betterment of your children. Both parents will have to give and compromise in order to make sure that your child lives the best life possible.

Featured photo source: Pixabay.com

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