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Best Ways to Manage Your Shared Custody Arrangement

One of the hardest parts of any separation involving children is managing shared custody arrangements with your child’s other parent. In fact, even parents who worked through an amicable divorce can end up in heated arguments over parenting time and last-minute schedule changes (among other issues). Regardless of how well you and your co-parent get along, you can effectively navigate your shared custody arrangements with these best practices.

Set a schedule and try to stick to it

Whether they realize it or not, children thrive in an environment with consistency and well-established, predictable routines. This is why things like nightly schedules and morning routines are so important — they help children feel secure and lower their stress levels because the order of events is predictable.

In the case of shared custody arrangements, you need to establish a set schedule as soon as you can after your separation and maintain that schedule as much as possible throughout the year. While this schedule may vary from family to family based on each parent’s work schedule or other impactful measures, it should be an arrangement you and your child’s other parent can easily maintain.

This doesn’t mean you can’t deviate from the schedule every once in a while for isolated events. It simply provides a framework for you and your co-parent to follow so your child feels like they have a secure, predictable schedule with each parent.

Use a co-parenting app like OurFamilyWizard

No matter what type of custody schedule you follow, it’s sometimes hard to remember which weekends are yours or who has the kids for a specific holiday. That’s why co-parenting apps like OurFamilyWizard® are so handy — they keep track of everything for you and make sure everyone is on the same page.

With the OurFamilyWizard Shared Family Calendar, you can program in all of your custody arrangements using parenting schedule tool, then simply set up the frequency of repetition for each event. You can set these schedules up to extend as far into the future as you desire, meaning you can simply set everything up one time and never worry about re-entering everything again each month or year. Additionally, you can set unique schedules for holidays, summer vacations, and other annual deviations from the schedule without reworking the day-to-day custody schedule.

Furthermore, the family calendar is color-coded so each parent can review their schedule at a glance for everything from weekly schedules to holidays and special events. This can be especially helpful for blended families with multiple custody calendars to keep up with, or in the case of families where grandparents or other relatives also help out with after school care.

If you need to request a change to your established custody arrangement for one-time events like family gatherings, you can use the Trade/Swap™ feature to request an isolated parenting schedule change so that it’s clearly documented. The other parent can simply approve the request, suggest an alternative arrangement, or flat out refuse the request.  All requests, approvals, and refusals are securely documented on the calendar with timestamps, meaning there’s no arguing over when a request was made.

In other words, using an electronic record keeper like OurFamilyWizard can help you and your co-parent keep track of schedules without any room for contradictions or confusion.

Keep communication lines open

Many divorced couples find it hard to communicate with each other. However, shared custody arrangements work best when parents are able to set aside their differences and talk to either other when needed for the sake of their children.

While your child’s other parent doesn’t need to know every detail about what happens within your house, they may need to know about certain events that occurred at your house so they can help out when the children are with them next. For example, if your child sustains an injury on the playground, your co-parent may need to help replace Band-Aids or keep the injured area clean to prevent infection. Or, you may decide to ground your child from electronic devices for two weeks for an infraction at school, and your co-parent will need this information if it’s a punishment that should carry over at their house. By communicating with your co-parent during these big moments, you’re showing them they are a parenting equal and part of a parenting team, which can help you both continue to raise your children under a united front.

Also, there are instances when school closures and other last-minute schedule changes may require you to work out a contingency plan with the other parent. If you can both transparently communicate about your needs and expectations with these last-minute schedule changes, then you will be better off in the long-run.

Luckily, these dialogues are another place where co-parenting apps like OurFamilyWizard come in handy — they keep all of your communications stored in a single, secure location.

Remember, your children are what’s most important

Although managing shared custody arrangements with your child’s other parent can feel frustrating at times, at the end of the day all that matters is what’s best for your kids. In most cases, spending time with both parents is ultimately what’s best for the children, even if that makes for some difficult moments for you.

If you keep your child’s best interests in the forefront of your mind, you are more likely to amicably co-parent alongside your child’s other guardian in a way that benefits your child. In fact, you may even find that co-parenting isn’t so bad after all — it’s all a matter of perspective.