Sharing custody of your child with your ex can be difficult, particularly when parents are contentious or are still adjusting to the custody arrangement.
Some people will eventually find stable ground and co-parent peacefully; others face ongoing challenges. In either case, parents should expect that disputes and disagreements can arise when it comes to raising a child separately but with another parent. Preparing for these situations is crucial, because it can keep arguments from spiraling out of control. It can be especially important to avoid some common mistakes.
- Don’t put your child in the middle. Chances are that your children are dealing with enough as they adjust to their custody situation. Putting them in the middle by using them as a bargaining chip, lying to them about the other parent, or having them serve as a messenger between parents can be more damaging than parents might realize. Avoid this by fighting when kids are out of earshot and minimizing any personal interactions until parents can be cordial.
- Don’t violate your custody order. When parents fight, it can be tempting for one to withhold parenting time from the other in violation of a custody order. Often, this is an attempt to punish the other parent. However, violating a custody order can result in serious penalties, including potential criminal charges.
- Don’t lose sight of what really matters. Many parents get wrapped up in arguments with an ex, particularly when they are recently divorced. Hurt feelings, sadness and anger can still be fresh and create a lot of animosity. However, it is crucial to remember that your children need you during this difficult time. Instead of fixating on your ex, try to shift focus to providing the love, stability and safety your child needs.
Note that these mistakes could lead to very serious disputes that ultimately land parents back in court. Arguments can erupt resulting in allegations of unfit parents, contempt of court and parental alienation, all of which can have severe consequences.
Sharing custody is not an easy situation to adjust to for most people. However, when you can minimize unnecessary complications and fights, you can make it a little easier for everyone to adapt and embrace a new normal.