You are in the process of divorce. You and your spouse have children together. You are planning to share custody. As a parent in a joint custody arrangement, your relationship with your spouse will continue long past divorce, as long as your children are part of your lives.
This reality often comes as a shock to couples seeking divorce. After all, the reason they chose to dissolve their marriages is because they did not get along and wanted to go their separate ways. The good news is, there is life after divorce, especially for a joint custodial parent. The challenge for couples however, is to redefine their relationship and learn ways of developing cooperative co-parenting plans based on their shared concerns for their children.
In developing an effective and cooperative co-parenting plan, the following should be considered:
Recognize the other parent as competent enough to care for the children and have their best interests in mind.
Be willing to give the other parent full authority to care for the children while they are in his/her care.
Recognize that any criticism of the other parent made in the presence of the children is an offense against them and destructive to their well-being.
Be willing to put personal feelings aside when communicating with the other parent regarding the children.
Put children’s need for love, safety and security above own needs.
When people meet these challenges, they will experience the benefits of being a joint custodial parent. Joint custody means having the peace of mind that someone who loves the children and has a stake in their well-being is caring for them. It means having the time to devote to one’s own personal interests without having any undue worry about the well-being of the children while they are with the other parent. It is knowing that there is someone with whom to share parenting problems and concerns.
A joint custody arrangement can transform a once flawed relationship into a productive parenting effort where neither person feels that he or she is a single parent.