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If you’re newly divorced, life may seem a bit overwhelming, figuring out how to separate two lives that were once joined. If you have children, there’s a tremendous amount of decisions to be made. Gaining custody of your child can be a scary thing, especially if you don’t feel that your child would be in capable hands living with your former spouse. The majority of divorces result in joint custody, which means that you and your spouse both have visiting rights to see the children. The outcomes of these cases may vary, depending on many factors in your or your spouse’s ability to nurture, positively influence, and care for your kids. If you've been awarded joint custody, the situation can also be difficult, because you will still have to interact with and make decisions with your former spouse, when you may just feel the urge to cut all ties. Here are a few tips to help manage joint custody with an ex-spouse.
Leave the Kids Out of It
It may be your first inclination to fill the kids in on every sordid detail of your separation and divorce from your spouse. You love them, and you want them to feel the same way about your estranged spouse as you do. However, keep in mind that children may not have the context or ability to understand the depth or complexities of the issues you share with your ex. As parents, it’s our job to shelter them from those things. If there are genuine concerns about the welfare of your kids when they’re with your spouse, talk to other adults about it, and get the help you need from them. If they’re not in any real danger, let them love both their parents equally -- and without feeling like they’re betraying one by loving the other.
Have Clear Expectations
Create a simple agreement that outlines the things your kids will need to maintain a semblance of consistency in their lives, and agree to uphold it with your exspouse for the good of your children. These may include things like acceptable forms of punishment, proper foods to feed the kids, and daily expectations, such as finishing homework on time or doing chores. Your children will more easily transition from one home to another if there are consistent expectations between the two places.
Schedule Regular Check-Ins
Though it may be difficult to imagine having a civil conversation with your exspouse in many cases, it’s best if you move past your emotional responses and cultivate some type of relationship if that’s possible. If you need to, seek out counseling or a mediator to help you get to a place where you can speak logically and clearly with one another. You’ll need to be communicating about your children and how they’re doing. They’re the ones who will suffer if you’re not. Set up a weekly or bi-weekly time to talk with your ex-spouse. If you have to, set up a list of questions to ask each week and check in about your kids. Also, create an open space for your kids to check in with each of you. Listen more than speak. Let them know you support and love them through this time.
Paige One enjoys writing posts about how single parents can thrive no matter the circumstances.
Disclosure: This is a sponsored guest post.