There are many reasons why couples decide to get divorced. Some couples may do it because they realized each of them had different interests and priorities while others do it because they can no longer healthily resolve conflicts. There are also some couples who think that divorce is the solution when both individuals lost their roles in the marriage or when the intimacy disappears especially after years of being married. If you are involved in an unhealthy marriage, divorce is one way of saving yourself from the situation. However, divorce becomes more complicated when there is a child involved. Sure, your role as a spouse might legally end once the divorce is settled, but your role as a parent does not. You’re expected to fulfill your role as a parent even when you are divorced.
When your child is below 18 years old, you and your spouse have to decide who gets the custody of the child. However, there are certain cases when the custody is automatically given to one parent when the other parent is not capable of taking care of the child. In a divorce, there are four types of custody for minor children:
Sole physical custody: This means that the child resides with and under the supervision of one parent. The other parent can visit the child as long as the court approves the plans.
Joint physical custody: Joint physical custody means legally allowing each of the parent to spend time with the child. In this type of custody, both parents can have continuing contact with the child even after the divorce.
Sole legal custody: This means one parent has the full rights and responsibilities in making decisions on the child’s behalf. This parent can decide for the child’s health, education and welfare. The other parent can still have visitation rights under this type of custody. Sole legal custody is one of the most common custody arrangement after a divorce.
Joint legal custody: This allows both parents to decide on behalf of their child. Although joint legal custody is the ideal type of custody as it will enable both parents to have a “parenting plan” for the child, it’s not always easy. To ensure that joint legal custody does work, both parents have to set aside their differences and work together for the benefit of their child.
How Can Child Custody Work After A Divorce?
There are certain pros and cons to each type of child custody. If the court grants sole legal custody to one parent, the other parent might find it hard not to see his or her child on a daily basis. This can even take a toll on the children as they have to make drastic adjustments without the presence of the other parent. Fortunately, there are many ways on how you can make child custody work:
- Always put the children first: The entire idea of child custody is to allow both parents to look after the welfare of their children even when they’re no longer married. This means that the parents have to make things work for the benefit of their children. The child should always be the priority. When you’re about to plan for visitation hours, make sure that the children’s needs are on top of the list and both of you are doing what’s best for them. Your relationship towards your child should be nurtured even when you’re divorced.
- Put your differences aside: Marriages end in different ways. Some couples will end their marriage when both of them are civil with each other while others, hating their ex-spouse. Regardless of your relationship with your ex-spouse, you should learn to set your personal feelings aside and focus on the child. If you can’t stand to be in the same room with your ex-spouse, do not bicker in front of the child. Your child expects both of you to become mature with this kind of setup so make sure that you meet such expectation.
- Keep the adult issues between yourselves: You might have resorted to divorce because your ex-spouse was cheating or abusing you physically but your child does not need to know this information. If you still have ongoing problems with your ex-spouse, save your child from the stress of the conflict. Do not let them hear adult problems like these. Let your children enjoy their years and innocence. After all, what happened with your marriage is not their fault.
- Don’t strive for perfection: There is no such thing as perfect child custody. If you want to become the best parent your child could ever have, forget about having the perfect “parenting plan.” Aiming for perfection will only cause frustration and delay in the process – things which can adversely affect your child in more ways than one. Just put in time and effort for your child, and everything else will fall into place.
- Never badmouth the other parent: Most often than not, child custody will become a contest to know who is the “better parent.” One parent would go to the extremes by telling bad things about the other parent just to get their child’s good side. If you want child custody to work, don’t ever do this. Badmouthing the other parent can backfire on you in the worst way. On the other hand, bad-mouthing a parent can affect the child as they will begin to struggle with their feelings for that parent. Your children will also feel torn because they will have to choose one parent over the other. They might also feel guilty because one parent says it’s wrong to love the other parent. All of these things can cause depression in your children.
- Consider what works logistically for all parties: When you and the other parent are living in different homes, the location might become an issue with child custody. Prepare to make adjustments in your routines so you can meet your responsibilities as a parent. You can also tap the help of professionals such as ONDA Family Law Firm to ensure that your efforts are legal.
- Always compromise: A child custody doesn’t only involve you – it also includes the other parent and your child. For your child custody plans to work, be ready to compromise. You can’t always have things your way. Regardless if you want your child to stay in your house 24/7, the other parent has the right to spend time with your child as well. You and the other parent should work together so your children won’t be overwhelmed with the setbacks of the divorce.
- Stay flexible: Having plans for the child custody is good but being flexible despite having a plan is better. If you came up with a plan on how each parent can spend time with the child, expect that a lot of things can happen along the way. These might require your plans to change. This is the reason why being flexible is also key when it comes to child custody. If there are unexpected challenges, don’t be afraid to discuss it with the other parent. Find solutions and make sure that the child’s welfare is not compromised in any way.
- Ask the children what they want: Child custody can become hard for all parties especially if you’re clueless on what to do in the process. Since this arrangement is for your children, go ahead and ask them what they want. Their answers will help you determine what type of custody is apt for their needs. If your children want to spend time with their mom and dad at the same time, schedule activities for that purpose. Have a picnic in the park, play sports or spend leisure in your house eating a pint of ice cream with your child and your ex-spouse. This might require a lot of hard work from you (especially if you’re not in good terms with your ex-spouse) but if it’s for your children’s happiness, it’s worth giving a shot.
Let Child Custody Help You
Going through a divorce is not an easy feat. You have to undergo emotional stress which can become unbearable at times. You also have to make a lot of adjustments with your life especially if you’re used to having a partner. This still doesn’t include the legal battle you have to endure for the divorce to be settled. Yes, divorce can be considered as one of the toughest times of your life, but this shouldn’t hinder you to become a good parent. You might be an irresponsible spouse, but that doesn’t translate that you’re an irresponsible parent as well. Let child custody help you meet your responsibilities as a parent. With this setup and help from the other parent, you can still become the best parent your children could ever have!
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