After the dispute is over and the child custody lawyers have done their job and been paid, parents embark on the difficult and enduring task of raising children with their former spouse. The bitterness that so often stems from the end of a marriage is difficult to put aside, but the trauma it causes to the children of divorced couples can be significant. The tips offered below will help guide parents through the delicate process of sharing custody.
- Put Parenthood First
The most important thing for divorced couples to remember when it comes to custody issues is to put parenthood ahead of everything else. As angry or hurt as they may feel, those issues should have been addressed during the divorce. Now is the time to focus clearly on the best interests of their child or children. It can be difficult to overcome painful, if selfish feelings and work with the person who has left you feeling betrayed, but having a child with someone means that is your job, no matter what else occurs.
- Forgive the Past
As difficult as it can be, letting go of the pain is the absolute best way to reduce the amount of trauma your children experience due to marital conflict. If you need help to manage this, family therapy doesn’t have to end because you have divorced. After all, you may no longer be married, but you will always be a family, and you and your children may benefit from some guidance and mediation from a professional counsellor.
- Respect their Role
If forgiveness is more than you can currently manage, make sure that you are at least showing respect to your former spouse’s relationship with your child or children. Whatever their sins as a husband or wife, their role as a father or mother is critical in your children’s lives and remembering its importance can help you to come to peace with their continued presence in your life.
- Discuss Important Decision
Although you are no longer married, as parents you will have a relationship for the rest of your lives. As with any other relationship, communication is the best way to keep things running smoothly. Openly discussing needs, obstacles, goals, and concerns will be the most effective way to avoid conflict and reach fair compromises. It will also help to keep the best interests of the child or children involved in sharp focus.
- Parent Together
Self-awareness is something that many people struggle with, but understanding your ability to work with and be around your former partner is the only way to make to right custody plans for your family. For parents who are able to put aside their personal feelings or whose divorce was fairly amicable, coordinated parenting is the best way to go. With this method of shared custody, parents can work together, spend time with their children as a complete family unit, and collaborate on important decisions.
For couples who are left angry and unable to moderate their conflicts after divorce, parallel parenting may be the best option. In this arrangement, parents will coordinate through email and other indirect communication, while limiting their contact as much as possible to avoid traumatic fights that will impact their children negatively. If even this is more cooperation that they can achieve, intervention from a mediator or custody specialist may be necessary to ensure that the children are protected from continuing conflict between their parents.
Alan Brady is a freelance writer who focuses on issues that impact families. He currently writes for Attorneys.com, which connects people with local child custody lawyers.