SHARING CUSTODY IN A MANNER THAT'S EASIEST ON YOUR KIDS

After a divorce where there are children in the picture, you want life to be as stable and happy as possible for your children. This isn't always easily done where you share custody with a former spouse whom you don't get along with. Below are some strategies to make shared custody arrangements easier on your kids. 

Keep disagreements with your spouse out of earshot

Young children want to know that their parents love them, and that being close to both parents won't threaten either relationship. After a divorce, arguing in front of your children, or speaking poorly about the other parent in front of your child, might make them feel as though they need to side with you and to push away the other parent in order to make you happy. Don't put your children in the position of feeling as though they're betraying one parent by getting along with the other. It is likewise important to model a respectful, cordial relationship for your kids, even under trying circumstances. Relatedly, foster respect and trust for the other parent with your child. It's important to you that your child listens to and respects your authority, and it's likewise important to your former spouse. If you find it impossible to speak with your spouse without bickering, consider holding more heated conversations over email or text.

Offer your child as stable a living environment and predictable a schedule as possible

If you and your spouse exchange custody on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, your children will inevitably feel unsettled to some degree. Try to create an environment in both parents' residences that feels as much like home as possible. Allow them to decorate each bedroom in a personal way, so that they feel as though it's truly their space. Consider alternate calendars, such as exchanging custody every two weeks or once a month, rather than every week, to allow them to feel more settled.

If you have a dispute, try to work it out informally, or secure the assistance of a mediator

Going to court for each small disagreement will not only be time consuming and expensive; it will make your relationship with your spouse unbearably contentious. If at all possible, take an informal approach to reaching an agreement on changes to the custodial arrangement or support payment prior to going to court. It could be helpful to secure a knowledgeable mediator for such disputes, such as a family law attorney, if you are at an impasse with your ex.

For assistance in family law matters in northern New Jersey and beyond, contact the Morristown law firm of Smith & Doran for a consultation on your case, at 973-292-0016.

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