The divorce rate in America hit a 50-year low in 2019, according to the Institute for Family Studies. And according to their data, the pandemic hasn’t reversed that trend, despite early signs that lockdowns and financial pressures might strain troubled relationships further.
However, divorce is still a reality for some 15% of marriages in the United States and with it comes split custody of children.
Deciding custody, experts say, is one of the most important decisions in a divorce. It usually takes place months before the final paperwork is signed and the separation is finalized. Custody also has an emotional and psychological toll on your children, so it’s important to do your best and strike the right balance early.
In the following article, we’ll look at five tips for how to make split custody work for you, your ex, and your children.
1. Split Custody by Consent
First, unless your ex is abusive or suffers from a psychological problem that makes them unstable and unreliable, you need to come to grips with the fact that they may be a good parent but a bad spouse (for you).
Your marriage might be splitsville, but your parenting isn’t over with your ex, and the sooner you accept that you’ll need to work together, the better off you’ll both be.
That stated you need to try to work out an arrangement that is not court imposed. The goal here is to decide on split custody, not litigate parenting.
Having a court decide consent is costly financially and potentially devastating for you, your ex-spouse, and, more importantly, your children. Try to work together to make the transition to co-parenting as seamless and successful as possible. Attempt to put aside the hurt and animosity so that your children can feel your love and support for them, even if you are hurting inside.
2. Keep It Profesional
One big way to smooth that transition is to put on the best front you can. No matter how much hurt you are feeling inside, keep your contact with your ex as professional as possible when it comes to your children. Keeping a cool head from jump street and not trying to score points when it comes to the kids’ time and their issues will serve you in the long run.
Divorce is hard, but if you try to stay professional with your spouse from the start, you’ll not need to apologize later.
3. ‘Fair’ or 50/50?
When people think of a split custody schedule, many think of it as a 50/50 time division. Often, that mindset is unrealistic.
First, each divorce is uncharted territory (even if you’ve been through it before!), and you, your spouse, and your children may not want an even division. If you need to travel for work, can you be there every Tuesday for your child? If your child enjoys softball practice with her other parent, is it right for you to deprive them of that time?
4. Forget Ear Muffs
This tip may seem obvious, but it’s a good reminder. Never, ever bad talk your spouse in front of your kids. If you have an issue, save it for your lawyer, therapist, or a private, professional conversation with your ex.
Remember, now that you’re not a couple, the rules of polite society applies and your children’s little ears are always on.
5. Communication Is Key
The best way for dealing with split custody child support and managed co-parenting is to keep communication lines open. It’s too easy to try to work with the other parent by text or email. It’s also a bad idea.
Get used to speaking to your ex about issues you see with the kids, about their triumphs and failures, and about any warning signs you are concerned about.
Again, keep it professional. If your former spouse rebuffs your concerns, that’s OK. It’s more important that you are honest and open in your telling, not that you get the response you were looking for.
Stay on the Same Page
As you develop a plan for split custody child support, try to make time to clear the air with your co-parent. Schedule regular updates like you would a business meeting. Before these parenting meetings, make a list of things to discuss and keep an open mind about your ex’s concerns.
Also, be open and flexible to schedule changes and discuss them at these meetings. It’s the best way to keep the kids healthy and happy.
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