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Tips for co-parenting in joint child custody situations

Getting a divorce is complicated in itself, both financially and emotionally, but things can get even more complex if a divorcing couple has children. Things like visitation schedules and child custody agreements can be very difficult to discuss, but there are ways divorced couples can cope with joint custody agreements and ultimately raise happy, healthy children.

The first step in tackling a co-parenting approach is to not treat an ex-spouse like the enemy. It may help to remember the ex-spouse's good qualities from earlier in the relationship, and remember that just because a marriage did not work out, it does not necessarily mean an ex is a bad parent. Talking to the children about an ex's good qualities is also helpful when reminding the kids that both mom and dad can get along, and will be there for them.

Oftentimes, a new partner comes into the picture, but it is important to keep relationships with a new spouse and an ex-spouse separate. Although the number-one priority is always the children, a positive outcome of co-parenting is that when the children are with one parent, the other parent has time to focus on a relationship with a new partner, a hobby or any other area of interest.

Keeping previously scheduled visits and arrangements with the children is important, but it's also a good idea to be flexible when plans do change. Like the old saying goes, "Treat others as you would like to be treated." If a once-in-a-lifetime event presents itself to an ex-spouse and he or she is unable to watch the kids that weekend, the other parent must try to put themselves in his or her shoes.

Whether a divorced couple is seeking joint custody of a child, or one parent is seeking sole custody, a family lawyer may be able to help create a plan that will best benefit the child. Custody disputes create tension between family members and should be avoided whenever possible.

Source: The Huffington Post, "9 Ways to Co-Parent Like a Grown-Up," Emma Bathie, Mar. 28, 2014

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