Working through the world of joint custody is difficult. After all, parenting in and of itself is hard; co-parenting can be even harder as you navigate schedules, communication, and difficult emotions. However, it can be important for your children to have both of their parents in their lives and there are tips and guidelines you can follow to ensure it is as smooth of an experience as possible for you, your ex, and your children.

Here at John R. Foley, P.C., we can help. Our family lawyers in Dearborn have worked with many families on their divorce and custody cases. If you are in Dearborn and are just beginning the process of divorce and custody, then our family lawyers can help. Likewise, if you have had joint custody for some time (or no custody at all) and are interested in modifying the current parenting plan, then we can also help. 

Our law firm specializes in a variety of legal services, including family law. Our family lawyers are passionate, experienced, and qualified, and we are confident we would be the right decision for your divorce and custody case. Keep reading for tips on responsibly handling joint custody in a way that is right for you, your ex, and your children. And contact John R. Foley, P.C. to meet with a family lawyer in Dearborn today.

Be Realistic About Your Schedule

Often during a custody case, our family lawyers see one or both parents try to get as much time with their child as possible. While this may be desirable and we understand this preference, it can often be from a place of fear or uncertainty. We suggest approaching the situation as logically as possible and focusing on your schedule. By doing so, you and your family lawyer will likely arrive at a custody decision that is best for the needs and interests of your children. 

Our family lawyers recommend looking at the following aspects when determining the parenting plan and schedule:

  • Children’s ages and personalities
  • Family schedule
  • Career and social commitments
  • Academic and extracurricular activities
  • Childcare arrangements
  • Distance between homes

Try (as best as you can) to focus on the logistics and your children’s needs rather than your emotions in this situation. The court will rule in the best interest of the child regardless, so it is best to go into the custody case with rationality and your children’s needs in mind.

Communicate Well

From the very beginning of your divorce and custody case, any family lawyer will tell you that open and honest communication is the best possible option for you and your redefined family unit. 

With your ex:

Even if communication is a sore subject with your ex, it is essential you communicate as effectively as possible after your divorce if you and your ex have children. This will benefit your children, your schedule, and your emotions as you proceed to navigate the tricky waters of joint custody. Find a method that works for you; maybe this means meeting in-person, talking over the phone, or texting. Whatever it is, the method should work for both of you and you should be open in your communication. This will also set a good example for your children of open, honest communication — even when it is difficult.

With your children:

Speaking of setting a good example for your children with communication, remember to communicate well with them! You have a lot of emotions to deal with during the divorce process and your children do, too. You lose a partner when you divorce, and while your children don’t necessarily lose a parent, the experience is certainly different. They should know they can come to you at any time with questions, concerns, or big emotions that they don’t quite know how to handle. It could also be a good idea for them to have input in the schedule. While you should always try to follow the parenting plan, there could be times when a subtle modification is needed on a day-to-day basis (and open communication with your ex will help with this). 

Focus on Your Children

Like we said already, your children are going through some big changes with your divorce and custody case. As you also go through changes, it is important to not lose focus on them. Our family lawyers recommend keeping the daily routine as similar as possible, even if your children switch between houses regularly. 

It is ideal for homework, discipline, and other details (like eating vegetables, no phones at the table, etc.) to be similar between homes. When someone goes through a divorce, it can be easy to “coddle” the children in a way because you do not want to add more stress or difficult emotions to their daily lives; however, discipline and a regular routine is more likely to help them rather than giving in to their every whim. 

On top of this, try not to be the “fun parent” exclusively or think of yourself as the “boring parent” if you are focused on discipline. While you should plan fun activities and events when you are with your children, this should not be the main focus. You are, first and foremost, their parent. For example, do not try to “beat” your ex by only planning all the fun things and never working on homework.

Follow the Parenting Plan

Whether you are just now working with a family lawyer to create a parenting plan or you have been following the same one for years, it is essential that you keep to it. It is the plan laid forth by the court that you committed to following — and it was designed and crafted with the interests and needs of your children in mind. While there may be certain situations or weeks when needs will vary, the parenting plan you and your family lawyer come up with is what you agreed to follow. If needs do arise and you need to adjust it periodically (perhaps for a family party, work event, extracurricular activity, etc.), then the open and honest communication you cultivate with your ex will be instrumental.

Respect Your Ex

You and your ex divorced for a reason. However, even if they were a bad spouse for you, that does not mean they are a bad parent to your little ones. Our family lawyers recommend that you do not bad mouth or disrespect your ex around your children. During the divorce process and during joint custody, you may have moments of frustration; if you need to vent, do so away from your children. They do not deserve to be caught in the middle of arguments when they are simply trying to have a relationship with their other parent. In addition to this, children will internalize what you say about your ex. If you are continually speaking evil of them, then your children may begin to believe that information about your ex and harbor ill feelings toward them or they may think it about themselves as well since they are made up of both you and your ex.

Review and Modify the Parenting Plan

Finally, review and modify the parenting plan when needed! If it has been years since you first worked with a family lawyer and created your parenting plan, then it is safe to assume that needs have likely changed. Perhaps you have more work commitments, your ex has moved to a new location, or the ages and interests of your children have developed and changed. Whatever it is, modification to a parenting plan is possible with the help of a family lawyer. If your parenting plan is not working well anymore as needs have changed over the years, then contact John R. Foley, P.C. to work with a family lawyer to see if modification is possible. 

This is also an option if you were previously excluded from having parenting time with your children. If the circumstances that dictated this have changed or you feel different representation from a family lawyer could help, then the case can potentially be reopened and you may be awarded parenting time. Here at John R. Foley, P.C., our family lawyers’ representative matters include obtaining parenting time for a father who was denied it for four years and obtaining parenting time for a father who was denied any for two consecutive years.

Meet With a Family Lawyer in Dearborn Today

Whether you are just starting the divorce and custody process or you are interested in modifying a current parenting plan, John R. Foley, P.C. has the legal services you are looking for. Our family lawyers are committed to helping our clients and their children find a solution that is right for their family. We also offer mediation if you and your ex think this is a viable option for you as you go through the divorce process. Contact John R. Foley, P.C. to meet with a family lawyer in Dearborn today to discuss your options.