The Ohio family courts talk about shared parenting instead of joint custody when it comes to children of divorced families. Parents are encouraged to work out an agreeable custody arrangement that works for the children and adults in their particular situation, instead of leaving it up to the court. The ideal plan is to work out an arrangement that meets the best interests of the child. Even if you cannot stay married to your child's parent, it is beneficial for your child to see his or her parents working together to co-parent. Here are some tips to use to help you create a co-parenting plan:
- Be positive in your speech when your children are with you. Do not talk disrespectfully about your ex.
- Recognize that co-parenting is a challenge. Know your goals, i.e., the best interest of your child, not because you "have to do it for your ex-spouse."
- Maintain a family calendar that each parent has access to.
- Know that you do not have to win every time; all relationships have compromise. Parenting is about what is best for the child, not getting back at your ex.
- Keep your ex directly updated about information in your life. You do this so your child is not the messenger, not because you want them to know everything.
- Think of shared parenting as quality time, not equitable time. Maybe your schedule does not allow for you to have 50 percent of the child's time. Instead of worrying about what you do not have, make the most of the time you do have.
- Have two or three rules that are consistent between homes. Structure and routine are important to a child's security.
- Talk with your child's other parent so you are not being used against each other. Do not try to one-up each other. Parenting is not a competition.
- Do not be afraid to be boring with your child. You do not have to spend every weekend going out to fun activities. Your child needs to see you do ordinary things.
- Save disagreements for outside of the child's range of seeing and hearing. Have a plan for major disagreements, such as a mediator who can assist you through the decision-making process.
- Have your own support system. Let your child see you with family and friends.
Co-parenting is not easy, but is healthy for your child
When parents are committed to the best interest of the child, the child can adjust to two homes. Divorce may be a complex legal process, but it does not have to tear your relationship up with your children. Discuss your goals with your attorney and work hard to make the transition to co-parenting.