As a followup from a previous blog “6 Tips to Communicate an Upcoming Divorce to Your Children,” we shared six cardinal rules for fostering your child’s peace of mind during the divorce process. But what options are there for parents to ensure their children live a consistent life after divorce? In an article from Psychology Today, Sam Margulies suggested co-parenting, an increasingly attractive trend divorcing parents are taking part to ensure they have their children’s best interests in mind and maintain a steady and, most importantly, healthy lifestyle.
What Does Co-Parenting and Joint Custody Mean in Georgia?
Under Georgia law, a married couple is equal when it comes to child custody arrangement. The court may either award sole custody and joint custody. There are two types of joint custody:
1. Joint legal custody is where both parents have the right to make decisions regarding their child and does not have anything to deal with where the child lives and;
2. Joint physical custody otherwise known as “co-parenting” divides the time with children between the parents on an equal or near equal basis.
Often with joint legal custody, the children live with one parent and visit the other. Parents share equally in making joint decisions affecting their children’s future including education, health, and religion. Whereas, joint physical custody, children will spend a substantial period of time with each parent on a rotating schedule.
It is logical for divorcing couples to opt-in to co-parenting as a necessity and the need to survive. However, co-parenting is easier said than done. Cooperative where “co” derives from will take both parents to come together and keyword again, cooperate, from the very beginning. Before agreeing to co-parenting, consider mediation to ensure both parents are ready to embark on this journey. The following below outlines Margulies six keys to making co-parenting work.
Six Keys to Making Co-Parenting Work:
1. Location. The most effective co-parenting involves parents that live close to each other. It may be possible to make it work at greater distances, but it is strongly suggested for parents to live in close proximity for the sake of their children’s social bandwidth and age.
2. Economic Status. Money is a definite concern. Many times, one parent tends to be more well-off than the other and that can easily affect the way children perceive their living arrangements. Keep in the mind, co-parenting is expensive because it requires two separate homes for the kids. Bet sure to set budgets and not emphasize the difference between the rich house or poor house.
3. Balanced schedules. Ensure that the time is divided equally between the children and each parent. Compromise on a schedule and make sure that both parents agree that during that time, children will spend time with the parent, building their relationship as well as building relationships with others around them. This includes new family members, neighbors and friends. Also, recognize schedule conflicts and unexpected changes in schedule and be able to accommodate those changes.
4. Acceptance of parenting styles. Co-parenting requires that each parent resist the temptation to criticize the other’s parenting unless the child is in serious danger. Meet in the middle when it comes to the children’s curfew, food, and discipline.
5. Acceptance of new mates. Most divorced couples remarry. Effectively communicate a new relationship to the children and former spouse. Co-parenting tends to fail the second children are uncomfortable and disapprove. Simultaneously, the ex may feel jealous and upset. Take the initiative and let the ex know well before how the transition will take place and when the children will be introduced to the future stepparent.
6. Effective conflict resolution. Expect a multitude of changes as children get older. Even though the divorce is final, life goes on and change happens at a rapid pace. As children get older, there will be new homes, new jobs, new mates, and new routines. Therefore, it is essential these changes must be managed. Both parents must be able to adapt to change, adjust, while continuing to cooperate. As previously mentioned, consider mediation if conflict arises. Be proactive and continue to keep the children’s best interest in mind.
Schedule a Consultation with our Atlanta Metro Area Family Law Attorneys Today
Speak to a caring and experienced family law attorney about your child custody options. Our firm’s founder Mary Stearns-Montgomery has extensive experience representing the best interests of children in family law matter. Mary, along with our family law attorneys, act as advocates for families throughout the Atlanta and Marietta area and will help understand your options. Schedule an initial consultation today by calling 770-280-1488 or complete our contact form.