Five tips to make co-parenting and joint custody work

No one ever wants to end up in a position where they’re juggling co-parenting and joint custody of their child. But the reality is that millions of families around the world are doing exactly that.

In Australia, statistics show that at least 15% of households post-COVID are one-parent families with dependents. That’s over one million people in one country, and many of them are sharing custody with their ex, while some obtained sole custody of their child.

So, if you’re in this position, rest assured that you are not alone. And, with so many people coming before you to try to co-parent like a boss, there are plenty of tips to help you make this new season of your life as stress-free as possible.

While much of this depends on the other adults involved in your child’s co-parenting, here are five tips that will make it easier on you and the little ones within your control.

1) Stick to the visitation schedule

More than anything, this tip is the key to a steady foundation for your child. It’s easy to talk to your ex and adjust schedules for holidays, birthdays, and other special occasions, but it’s a bad habit to get into. Hiring a professional like Forte Family Lawyers can help you negotiate the best visitation schedule for you and your ex. 

However, no matter what’s going on at the time, try to stick to that custody paper as much as possible. This keeps stability in place for your child and avoids any tricky situations later if a conflict arises between you and the other parent. 

2) Don’t let your emotions cloud your judgment

If you truly want to co-parent for the best of your child, you must eliminate any negative emotions from your mind and heart. It’s going to be difficult sometimes, but it’s part of the parenting role.

Remember, the most important person in this mix is your child. Their happiness and well-being depend on you and your ex, and how you both handle the split. This isn’t to say you can’t have negative feelings, like hurt and anger, but when you’re around your child, those feelings must be suppressed. 

Talk to a counselor or get help from someone who can teach you how to handle your emotions and co-parent without letting your feelings control your behavior.

3) Communicate with your ex with boundaries

Communication is going to be an essential component of raising a child together. However, that communication must include boundaries at the onset. Keep the link open as long as you are discussing your child, but avoid any personal conversation. You don’t need to know what’s going on in their life when your children aren’t over there, and they don’t need to know about yours. 

4) Aim for consistency in households

One of the hardest parts for a child in split homes is the difference in discipline and structure. Talk to your ex to find out how they plan on handling things like routines and chores, and try to come to an agreement that works in both households.

5) Don’t get emotional at transitions

Depending on how old your child is, chances are very likely that at some point, they’re going to not want to leave you, or not want to come home. These transitions are the hardest for all of you. Do not encourage their outbursts, no matter how much you want them to stay with you. 

As long as you know they’re going to be safe with their other parent, do your best to help them prepare for the transition. Never spring it on them, and always stay united with sticking to the schedule and supporting your ex.

These five tips will make this learning curve a little easier on everyone, and set the stage for how well you continue to co-parent in the future.