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How ex-spouses can make joint custody work for everyone

The end of a marriage is typically difficult for everyone: spouses, children, relatives and friends. Many Pennsylvanians know firsthand how a divorce can disrupt family dynamics because no one knows what the future holds. One parent could end up only seeing children on weekends, while the other parent has custody of the children during the week. A recent trend, however, has been for parents to seek joint custody arrangements, enabling both of them to spend more time with their children.

Whether or not a joint custody arrangement can be reached is in the hands of the parents, not the children. Parents should remember that shared custody usually means that the children will move between homes, so it is important for them to have and share the same goals in raising their children. Punishment and rewards for a child's actions should be the same in both households. When expectations and standards are shared, the children find it easier to transition to the new reality of their lives with less confusion. Parents should also be civil whenever they are together around their children. If there are issues that need to be discussed, they should talk about them when the children are not around, especially if there are strong feelings involved.

Shared custody can improve both parents' relationships with their children. The children can also learn about compromise from parents who are able to settle issues peacefully despite being divorced. Shared custody also teaches children how to solve problems by themselves.

For parents who have concerns or issues with existing child custody arrangement, a conversation with a family law professional may help them find a different way to look at and solve a dispute. Best of all, the children often benefit from a custody arrangement that prioritizes their best interests while teaching cooperation.

Source: The Daily Times, "Parenting after divorce means putting child's needs first," Brenda-Lee Duarte, July 6, 2014

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