Co-Parenting: Forming a Respectful Shared Custody Agreement

separated couple in couch

Reaching a joint custody agreement can be incredibly stressful. Try to keep in mind that you would not even be considering shared custody if you didn’t trust that your spouse will be a good parent to your children.

Remember that this is not about you. The divorce is for you and your spouse to separate and find happiness apart. But, the custody agreement is for your children. Their health and well-being need to come first in any decision that both of you make.

Communicate as clearly as you can with your spouse, through your family law attorney if it is easier, and work towards coming to an agreement that puts your children’s needs first. Communication is also the key to maintaining a cordial relationship with your ex-spouse when the divorce is finalized, and the custody agreement begins.

separated couple sitting at different ends of the couch

Communication Will Ease the Transition for Your Children

You may have concerns regarding your ex-spouse’s parenting choices, but you need to realize that it is no longer your concern. If they follow the agreements in the signed custody arrangement, you do not have a lot of say in how they carry out their parenting duties. Give them the same freedom and wiggle room that you would want from them.

Make sure that disciplining bad behavior is included in the custody agreement, as this can become a point of contention later on. Children of divorced parents are likely to act out and push boundaries, and having a formal plan of action will help both of you to approach these situations as a united front.

Communication is Necessary

The two of you have to communicate effectively to manage your time and your children’s activities effectively. You do not have to be any more cordial than with an acquaintance, and you can fully restrict conversations to only child-related topics; but, those topics do need to be discussed and agreements reached.

You may never want to see your spouse again, but by planning and developing a cordial relationship with them, you can give your children as normalized a lifestyle as possible. As the adults, you will have to find a way to interact for your child’s benefit because they do not deserve to be punished for what happened between the two of you.

Communication Will Keep Your Children Safe

Children who come from broken homes where there is constant conflict are more likely to develop mental health problems such as depression and anxiety. A calm and cordial relationship with your ex-spouse is the way to keep your children safe from developing these life-altering and long-lasting mental health issues.

With a workable custody agreement, your children can continue to feel secure in your affection for them and be confident that their parents still love them even if they are in different homes. This is so necessary for developing healthy self-esteem in your children. Children thrive under parents who give them consistency, discipline, and focused attention.

Seeing the two of you work through your differences for their sake will also teach your children how to resolve disputes reasonably. This is a healthy coping mechanism that will aid them throughout their life.

Children Are Not a Communication Tool

Divorce is painful, and the desire to avoid seeing your ex-spouse may make you feel like communicating to them through your child. But this is a terrible move and must be avoided at all costs. Making them into your messengers puts them in an untenable situation where they are in the middle of the conflict between just you and your ex-spouse.

Children are likely to innately blame themselves for the break-up of their parent’s marriage. Using them as messengers will make them feel they are part of the relationship issues. They will suffer a great deal of emotional pain from this.

Another thing to avoid is not to vent to your children no matter how frustrated your ex-spouse may make you feel. The conflicts between you two are not for your children to know about or be subject to a hearing. Let off steam to friends and family members, and make sure your children cannot hear you complaining.

Letting anger and resentment color your interactions with your children will not hurt your spouse; it will hurt your blameless children. Always be the mature parent and protect your children, even from your bad moods.

You two may disagree about every other aspect of life, but keep in mind that you both have a common goal when it comes to your children. As long as you focus on raising your children into being happy, disciplined, and kind adults, you will find it easier to communicate with your ex-spouse.

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