Florida prefers to award joint, or shared, custody during a divorce settlement. So even if you still have strong negative feelings about your ex, you will likely still have to see and interact with them when you drop off or pick up your child throughout the year.
Sharing custody isn’t always easy, but we have a few tips on how to make it work and ensure your child’s health and happiness as they grow up.
Remember Your Child Comes First. Florida believes that contact with both parents is best for the child’s wellbeing, which is why the state most commonly issues joint time sharing or parental responsibilities. After the divorce is finalized and all rulings are delivered, it is your job to hold up your end of the bargain. No matter how much you will receive (or pay) in alimony or how often you get to see your child, it’s important to hold up your end of the bargain. Put all of your focus into being the best parent to your child.
Spouse and Parent Are Two Different Roles. Your ex may not have succeeded in their role as a perfect spouse, but that role is separate from their role as a parent. Translation: do not badmouth your ex in front of your child.
Even though you may be upset or frustrated with their actions, gossiping or saying negative things about them to your child won’t get you on your child’s good side. In fact, studies show that if a parent badmouths their ex to their child, it actually hurts your relationship with your child the most.
Instead, focus on your ex’s positive traits as a parent, and understand that your child will have a completely different relationship to your ex than you do. This will make joint custody more enjoyable for everyone.
Be Flexible… Life happens. Work interferes. People have emergencies. Scheduling conflicts may force you or your ex to cancel plans, drop off your child at a different time than normal, or switch off a certain day to accommodate the other parent. When this happens, it’s easy to get upset and vent to your child. But having flexibility in your schedule and being willing to compromise will only help you in the long run.
…But Be on Time. Even though flexibility is important, you still need to strive to be punctual and avoid inconveniencing your ex. Dropping off your child to a grumpy parent will spoil the end of a great time with you, and start things off on a bad note with your ex. It creates an overall negative atmosphere. Would you rather have your child remember growing up as a positive experience, or as constantly playing mediator between you and your ex?
Be Willing to Communicate About Parenting Decisions. Having joint custody includes having joint legal custody of your child. This means you and your ex will have to coordinate on big parenting decisions like education, health, finances, and more.
But don’t stop there. Coordinate on the smaller parenting decisions as well. A consistent approach to parenting will make your child’s life easier, and prevent small conflicts from occurring when the child is moving back and forth between parents.
None of this means that you and your ex are going to agree on everything. Whether the decisions being discussed are big or small, you may have different priorities and perspectives on how your child should grow up. But you have to try to find common ground as much as possible. That means learning to pick your battles. When you budge on smaller issues, your ex will be more willing to compromise when a big disagreement arises.
Showing that you’re willing to compromise on scheduling as well as certain parenting decisions will also help you if you and your spouse need to revisit a courtroom and adjust your current custody agreement.
Make Changes If Necessary. There are many reasons why the parenting plan and arrangement you have might need to be altered, especially after a change in jobs, a big move, or other big life events. If an arrangement is preventing you from being the best parent you can be, talk to you ex.
If you and your ex agree that your arrangement is not working out, you have the power to make legal changes to best fit your situation. Contact a Florida family lawyer. They will be able to help you modify or terminate the rulings made at your divorce hearing and allow you and your ex to care for the child in a way that is best for you.