You already know that communication between you and your ex is critical for successful co-parenting. When do you need to start looping your child into the conversation, too? Opinions range from wanting children to get extensive input as early as the preteen years to believing that only the parents and judge should have any input. If you’re wondering if it’s time to ask your child about joint custody schedules and time sharing, here are three factors to consider.
1. The Age of the Child
In general, the older the child
, the more say they have on the schedule. This is because they’re better able to navigate their relationship with each respective parent, and thoughtfully and respectively express their wishes. Practically, the older your children are, the more likely they are to be involved in extracurricular activities, sports and social events that the joint custody schedule
has to consider and work around.
2. The Maturity of the Child
The number of years your child has been on the planet doesn’t always match up with their emotional maturity. It’s important to consider your child’s motivations and thought processes before just going along with what they want. For example, an angry teenager who decides she wants to go live with their mom after being grounded for sneaking out probably shouldn’t carry the same weight as a child who explains they don’t get to see their dad as much as they’d like to and asks if they could have an extra overnight.
3. Your State’s Laws
Every state has different guidelines on when and if a child’s wishes come into play in deciding a joint custody schedule. In some states, like West Virginia, the judge strongly considers the wishes of the child after a certain age (in this state, it’s 14), but most states simply leave “the best wishes of the children” as the most important deciding factor. Therefore, whether or not the child gets a say is determined by whether the judge thinks the child’s wishes also match their best interests.
If your child is starting to express a preference for living with one parent over the other or wants more say in the joint custody schedule, it’s never a bad thing to listen to their thoughts and ask questions so you can learn more about why they feel this way. However, the final decision still rests with the parents (or the judge, if you can’t agree), and 2houses
provides a platform to facilitate open communication between you and the other parent as you see if adjustments need to be made.
It is never easy to bring a relationship to an end. In particular, if you share children with your spouse, you want to make it as easy as possible on them and on you. You have the option of filing for no-fault divorce or, in some states, Mutual Consent Divorce. In layperson’s terms, mutual consent divorce just means you’ve decided as a couple to end the marriage and you want to do so with the minimum of conflict.
Agreeing to End the Marriage
In states such as Pennsylvania, it’s possible for one spouse to file for divorce and the other spouse to agree with the filing. This is called a mutual consent no-fault divorce. Most states have the option for a “no fault,” divorce, where you can file based on “irreconcilable differences” and do not have to state that your spouse has done something specifically wrong. With a no-fault divorce, however, your spouse can generally still contest the filing.
Benefits of Mutual Consent Divorce
If you and your spouse can agree to end the marriage mutually, you benefit from looking at your finances and shared child care responsibilities with a clear head. Many states have resources that can help you and your spouse understand the details of asset division and developing a parenting plan for your children going forward.
Fundamentally, what you gain through a mutual consent divorce is the ability to maintain a civil relationship with your child’s other parent, who will remain a part of your child’s life and may share custody.
Co-Parenting into the Future
If you avoid a messy divorce and stay on good terms with your former spouse, co-parenting is much easier. You are able to support your children in their relationships with their other parent while keeping your own emotions in check. Tools like the shared calendar function on 2houses
can help make your long-term parenting plans more efficient and facilitate open communication
Especially if you have young children, your time as an active co-parent may span several years. Starting off on a positive note can help make those years as easy as possible on you and on your children.
Where to Go for Help
Mutual consent divorce may help co-parents keep the peace, but it’s not right for everyone. If you are thinking about ending your marriage and want to know about your options, speak with a divorce attorney in your area. During this emotionally difficult time, you may have more options than you think.