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5 Ways to Make Shared Custody Work


Shared custody is an arrangement between separated or divorced couples in which their children spend a relatively equal amount of time with each parent. Parents who wish more involvement in the raising of their children should consider this option. Research has indicated that children who grew up in joint custody have fewer behavioral problems, and will have higher self-esteem and better school performance than those in sole custody arrangements.

Sharing Custody

A child needs love from both mother and father, and one is not more primary than the other. Parents who wish to have a more meaningful relationship with their child need to involve themselves in the child's everyday life. Bed time stories, play time, eating outside, or even helping with homework are just some of the activities a parent can do to nurture the relationship.

Generally parents share custody by having an alternating schedule of where the child lives. For example, the child can live with the mother for one week, then with the father next week. Some parents even let the child stay in the same house and move in or out themselves depending on their schedule. Other arrangements are possible and the best one is the one that's most comfortable for the child.

Making it Work

Shared custody is a difficult to do successfully. It requires hard work and understanding from both sides, as even though they are no longer a couple, they must work together as parents for their child's good.

1. Make an Arrangement

Settle on an arrangement that has a reasonable and predictable routine. The most effective system is the one that accommodates the schedules of both parents and the child. Having a predictable schedule creates a sense of stability on the child, as it will let the child know where he or she will spend the coming days in.

2. Balance

Balance both aspects of parenting. Avoid designating a role to each parent, where one is the fun parent and the other is the strict one. Share responsibilities in providing discipline as well as fun, so that the child will grow to appreciate and love both parents equally.

3. Rules

Form one set of rules for the child to follow in either house. Having different sets of rules to keep in mind can be too confusing for a young child. Bedtime, homework, television time, etc. need to be the same wherever the child is staying.

4. Communicate

Communicate effectively with each other. Parents must be prepared to talk with each other properly so they can discuss what's best for their child without animosity. Granted, there will be arguments whenever disagreements come along, but they must be handled without involving the child.

5. Be Flexible

Be flexible in facing unforeseen changes. No matter how planned out the agreement or schedule is, there will always be times when circumstances warrant a sudden change. Take it in stride and don't let it affect the time spent with the child. 

Successfully sharing custody of a child is a most rewarding experience for both parents and child alike.

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