Navigating shared custody can be challenging, especially if you’ve just been through a difficult divorce or have a combative co-parent. Arizona family courts try to make decisions that are in the best interests of the child, but it’s up to you and your co-parent to make the situation work, and co-parents don’t always make that easy. Here are a few tips for surviving shared custody, especially if you have an ex who doesn’t make it easy.
- Maintain boundaries. If you have a combative ex who is always looking for dirt to use against you, it’ll be important to maintain boundaries as co-parents in a shared custody situation. Don’t get sucked into conversations and overshare personal information, and don’t allow your co-parents to ask for exceptions to the parenting agreement all the time, no matter now nice they’re being. Remember, even if it benefits your child to work together as co-parents, you do have separate lives now, and the parenting agreement is in place to allow you to both pursue your own lives while avoiding misunderstandings about where they connect.
- Don’t get emotional. It’s also important not to get emotionally involved or allow yourself to be dragged into drama with your co-parent. Remember, you are not in an emotional relationship with this person anymore, so there is no reason to get into emotional arguments or allow them to use manipulation against you. Minimize conversations to what is necessary to take care of your child, and quickly end any conversation that starts to get too emotional or manipulative.
- Put your child first. Part of staying above all the drama and emotion is remembering that as a parent, your child’s wellbeing has to come first and foremost. For most children, it’s for their benefit to maintain a long-term relationship with both parents. Also try to remember that a parent needs to be a parent and not a friend, so your child’s relationship with your co-parent isn’t always going to be happy. Try to avoid the urge to interfere with every interaction between your child and your ex. Remember that even if you are no longer together, you are still raising a child together via shared custody, and parenting your child as a team needs to be your first priority.
- Take advantage of time to yourself. Shared custody has one major advantage for single parents: Time away from your child. When your child is with your co-parent, it gives you valuable time to run errands without kids, go out without having to figure out a babysitter, and practice self-care. Take full advantage of this time to recharge and get things done, as it’ll help you be at your best when you’re with your child or dealing with your co-parent.
- Seek legal counsel when needed. If you have a combative or manipulative co-parent, it’s important to make sure you know your rights, and especially important that you stick to the parenting agreement. If your co-parent is taking advantage or violating the agreement on a regular basis, consult with a lawyer. You may have more legal recourse than you realize.
Shared custody may be challenging, but it is totally survivable if you maintain your boundaries, take the best care of yourself and your child that you know how, and know your rights as well as your responsibilities. If you have concerns, however, don’t hesitate to reach out to legal counsel. For a consultation on your case, contact Simon Law Group, PLLC, today.