Apr 9, 2012

Joint custody and joint parenting

Often when there’s a separation or divorce, the first thing to be resolved is the children. Who are the children going to live with? If you move, who is going to get the car and how will the children get to school? If there is a custody battle, are the children going to be divided up or stay together with one parent and who should that parent be? Separating from your children is hard. It does not mean because you are the father that you cannot be the parent they live with. It is all up to what is best for the children. That thought should be uppermost in your mind. A father does not want to be separated from his kids as he wants to be with them first thing in the morning when they get up and get ready for school and last thing at night to tuck them in before they go to bed. The best thing you can do right upfront is to decide to be civil about it and vow to have an amicable split.

Suggestions for an easy transition

• If you have children, don’t separate them. Each child will be suffering from the loss and will not be at their best. The news of the separation or divorce would be known already as kids know well when their parents are at odds and something is wrong. Explain the situation to your kids but do not go into detail about what this one did and what the other one did. Ask each child separately where he or she wants to be. Your child will need comfort and lots of attention so spend time with each child individually and assuage his or her fear. Children want both their parents in the same house. They might pine for a long time if how you explain things and what you do is not done properly.

• If you get on well with your soon-to-be ex spouse, don’t discuss lawyers and custody matters with the kids. If they are under a certain age they are best off with their mother, especially if the father has to travel all the time to other states on business. A sixteen-year-old son might, however, live with his father if he so wishes. The idea is that irrespective of whom the children live with that on weekends they will all be together with their father. You can encourage sleepovers if the children desire it.

• If neither your husband nor you want to move because it is easier for the children to go to school, and you have a double-storied home you might want to make alterations to the house and have your own separate apartments in the home. It can work if you want it to and if you can handle the very real possibility that one of you might take a new partner.

Joint custody is an option for many parents as they both want to be involved with the child’s upbringing; his values, his faith, his education and so on. Going through a separation or divorce is not easy, but you can make it work if you want to. It is not going to be easy and won’t happen overnight, but you have to know that things will become easier as you go along, and as you see your kids happy.


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