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Divorced Parents Sharing Custody Must Learn to Communicate

Joint custody provides a way for each of the divorced or separated parents to stay involved in their childrens' lives. Parents can share physical custody so the children spend time at the home of each, as well as legal custody, giving each parent a say in their children's care and welfare. This might sound like a win-win situation, but here is the challenge: keeping lines of communication open in the wake of divorce.

Why Communication Is So Critical

Divorced parents with joint legal custody must talk to each other and agree on important decisions such as the child's medical care, education and religious upbringing. According to Legal Assistance of Western New York, parents need to communicate effectively and cooperate with each other in spite of the likelihood that they are in conflict due to the divorce for joint custody to work.

It can be difficult and costly to modify child custody once it is awarded, so parents must attempt to communicate peacefully about what is best for the child, according to Legal Assistance. In many cases, however, this is not possible regardless of the parents' best intentions, especially in high-conflict, emotionally-charged divorce proceedings.

Advice for Parents with Joint Custody

According to Julie Ross, author of "Joint Custody with a Jerk," divorced parents can work together when sharing custody by following this advice:

  • Learn to communicate whether you like the person or not
  • Take inflammatory words like "always" and "never" out of conversations
  • Find creative solutions
  • Take responsibility for poor communication regardless of fault

After taking these steps, parents might find it easier to talk to each another and their children, creating a better atmosphere for the children. Just because the parents are in dispute does not mean that the children should suffer. In fact, parents might be able to find common ground once they start sharing legal custody and improve their relationship in the process, as long as they shield their children from the ugly side of their own dispute.

Parents considering joint custody should consult with an experienced divorce attorney who can represent their best interests and those of their children throughout the divorce proceedings. It might take time and effort, but parents owe it to their children to learn to work together for the childrens' sake.

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