When you think back to your wedding day, you probably never could have imagined that you’d one day be filing for a divorce in a Maryland court. As a parent, one of your highest priorities will no doubt be to provide loving support to your children as they come to terms with the life changes your divorce will bring to them. Children fare best when their parents work together as a team regarding child custody issues.
You can’t control what your ex does, but you have total control over how you respond. You can avoid a lot of child custody-related stress by drafting a solid agreement from the start. There are three main issues to keep in mind to help avoid confusion, as well as disputes.
Make children’s best interests the central focus of all proceedings
There may be some “bad blood” between you and your co-parent because of your past marital problems. Agreeing to keep your children’s best interests in mind when negotiating terms of agreement for custody and visitation helps you focus on the kids, rather than any bad feelings you might have toward your ex because of things that transpired between you in marriage.
No matter how frustrated or angry you might be with your children’s other parent, agreeing to focus on what’s best for your kids as you all move on in life helps them cope and helps you avoid legal problems.
Agree on terms of communication ahead of time
You’re always going to have to interact with your ex regarding your children. If the two of you fight every time you meet in person, however, there’s no reason you can’t modify terms of agreement regarding means of communication. For instance, you can agree, in writing, to restrict your interactions with each other to text messaging, email or phone conversations.
If you feel that some in-person communication is necessary, you can agree to limit your in-person meetings to several times per year or once per month, etc., or whatever you’re most comfortable with.
Always discuss and incorporate terms of agreement regarding finances
The financial dynamic of your household may drastically change after divorce, especially if your children were accustomed to a dual-income lifestyle. Your child custody agreement lays the groundwork for care and provision for your children, which must include financial matters. Kids have a lot of financial needs, some of which are unexpected, such as a dental bill if a child cracks a tooth or medical bills if someone gets sick.
Your kids might want to go away to camp or join a sports league or band or other activity that requires a fee. Who’s going to pay for all of it? During marriage, such issues are often “household expenses.” After divorce, however, you and your ex will want to incorporate specific terms in your agreement regarding “extra” or unexpected financial needs that may arise for your children.
Try your best to keep the peace
You don’t have to like your ex to be able to co-parent in a peaceful manner. Your kids will be better off if they witness the two of you cooperating and working together for their sake. If a dispute arises, however, don’t hesitate to reach out for additional support, as needed. It’s not uncommon for co-parents to disagree about child custody issues from time to time.
Again, you can’t control what happens, but you can control how you respond and what you do about it, especially if it’s a matter involving your child custody order, such as your ex is not showing up at the agreed-upon time and place to transfer custody or is denying your children access to you while they are in his or her care. You can bring such issues to the court’s immediate attention.