Your separation affected your child. At least make the custody arrangement smoother.
How does the shuffling between two households affect a child’s sense of stability? This is not one of the questions asked in court for child custody resolution.
Typically, a joint or shared custody arrangement is reached when the court allows parents to share physical and/or legal custody of the child. Joint custody is the court’s preferred arrangement. What gets overlooked in the process, though, is the child’s wellbeing.
If you are a parent granted such joint custody, you can work toward ensuring that your child does not face additional psychological pressures following your separation. You must be prepared to work through the disadvantages of joint custody for the sake of your child.
Ensuring stable relationships
A joint child custody arrangement is naturally difficult for a child who has to shuffle between two households regularly. Look at it from the child’s perspective: he/she is also required to shuffle between friends. Often, he/she is forced to skip after-school activities or weekend activities when the parents do not live in the same school district. Spending time with favorite family members during religious events becomes challenging, as does spending undivided time with siblings.
As a parent, you can make sure that your child does not have to deal with these pressures by working on an arrangement that allows your child to have as much stability as possible in both homes. It is also important that you and your ex follow the arrangement routinely. This allows the child to recognize the pattern and meet the expectations of the arrangements in an informed way.
But above all, be flexible! If your child wants to spend more time with your ex on special occasions, let him/her.
Having all essentials
In shared custody, the chances are that both parents are bearing double expenses for the child. This includes expenditure for clothing, food, activities, and higher costs like a bigger home or additional furniture. The pressure this brings might manifest as everyday stress that comes in the way of spending quality time with your child.
You can handle financial pressures by working with your ex to send clothing and toys with the child every time he/she moves between your homes. You can save money by cutting coupons or shopping in bulk. You can also maintain a smaller home while sectioning off a place in a common room for the child.
In whatever you do, maintain the best communication with your ex, keeping the child’s best interests in mind. Poor communication can damage the joint custody arrangement and affect the child emotionally and psychologically.
Maintain clear communication by speaking openly and attending counseling or parenting classes when necessary. If required, work with a neutral party to assist with pickups and drop-offs. It is your job as a parent to make your child’s transition to joint custody seamless.
For more information, visit your state’s child custody guidelines or speak with a qualified attorney.