If shared custody is difficult for you, just imagine how your children feel. They have to move from one household to another often multiple times a week. The transitions may make them moody and challenging to deal with at the outset of your planned time together. Reducing the difficulty of transitions for them can make shared custody arrangements and co-parenting more effective.
Here are some things to keep in mind to help your child handle moving back and forth better:
- Be consistent. Have a consistent routine for picking up or dropping off your children when custody changes for the week. If you always take you child or children on Sunday nights to start the week, try and have the plan be that your ex will drop the kids off at your home at 4:30 p.m. every Sunday, for example. Of course, there may be exceptions when life gets in the way of your plans and changes must be made. However, having a consistent routine in place that you can follow most of the time will make a world of difference for your kids and for you.
- Be on time. If you work and are picking up your child at an after-school program, for example, be there when you said you would be there. Children treat statements like promises. If you say you will be there by 5:30 p.m., then be there by 5:30 p.m. Try not to over-promise. It's better to say you'll be there at a certain time and be early than to be late. That way your custody time also starts off on a positive note.
- Be civil. You may still have strong feelings of anger, hurt or frustration toward your spouse. Try to set your feelings aside when transition time comes. Children can sense tension. If you can't be pleasant, at least be civil. Let your child see you working amicably with your former spouse and that the transition is "normal" and not a time of hostility and unpredictability. Calm, peaceful transitions can be the new status quo.
Creating predictable and consistent transitions for your children during shared custody can be challenging, but when your child is successful and happy, your custody time can be more pleasant, too.
If you need to make changes to your custody arrangements, speak with an attorney who can make the necessary adjustments. You and your child's happiness could depend on it.