Separated But Living Together: Tips for Effective Co-Parenting

Separated But Living Together

Amid a contentious divorce, staying separated but living together might sound ill-advised. Yet, some parents find it the best way to meet the needs of their children. Especially when they share joint custody

How do they make it work? By restructuring their relationship. This tactic allows both partners ample opportunity to co-parent without stepping on one another’s toes. 

Additionally, this type of arrangement requires honest communication and clear ground rules. Such a “partnership” is not about keeping up appearances. Or pretending to be together for the sake of the children.

The couples who make it work also honestly discuss their relationship status with their kids. The caveat? They wait until their kids are old enough to understand some of the intricacies of relationships. 

Common sense dictates living separately after divorce. Some people have found other solutions, though. Keep reading to learn more about circumstances where living in the same household can work. 

When Common Sense Goes Out the Window

Divorce is tough on children. Yet, studies show that parents who choose to stay together for the kids often cause more harm than good. Settling into a contentious marriage filled with anger and bitterness is terrible for everyone.

After all, children are known for their intuitive natures. They’re excellent at picking up on relationship dynamics.

What’s more, negative emotions like unhappiness and anger are contagious. They can infect an entire household, robbing children of precious aspects of their youth. 

What happens, however, when partners realize they’re not well-equipped for single parenthood? Some decide to stick it out, forging a new relationship. One based on keeping a respectful distance, taking turns parenting, and living under the same roof.

Think of them as roommates with shared interests, their children. Yes, they co-parent in the same house. One of the main reasons it works, though, is because they give each other plenty of space.

In essence, these co-parents have decided to throw common sense out the window. They haven’t done it haphazardly, however. And they wouldn’t recommend it to everyone.

Nonetheless, it can work. If both parents are willing to forge a new relationship based on transparency and respect. 

Separated But Living Together

How does co-parenting in the same home work? One former couple recommends taking turns with the parental role.

This approach frees the other one up for much-needed adult time. No questions asked. 

It might be as simple as heading to their bedroom for downtime. Or it might involve going out. While off-duty, the responsibility of parenting is off their shoulders.

How do former spouses make their relationship work without letting past hurts get in the way? By giving themselves the space and time to resolve issues related to their marriage upfront.

Conscious uncoupling allows them to pursue an unorthodox living arrangement. One ruled by logic and clarity rather than emotions.

Not sure how to move past the rage? Here are some communication tips for an amicable divorce

Another set of co-parents who live together spent more than a year laying the groundwork. This approach involved completely restructuring their relationship and lives. 

Throughout the process, they kept communication open and honest. Especially when it came to explaining their arrangement to their kids.

To this day, they have no qualms about explaining how their relationship differs from others their kids might see.

The Silver Lining When It Comes Living Together After Separation

Some co-parents attribute their ability to be supportive of one another to their divorce. While married, they may have done things to sabotage or belittle one another. They felt unhappy and frustrated as a result.

After restructuring their relationship, former couples let go of these harmful habits. They moved past the pettiness of their previous relationship. In essence, divorce let them start over. 

They paved the way for a relationship built on respect, civility, and shared interests. One centered on co-parenting. 

Many co-parents living together have found the process smoother than anticipated. Why? Because through it, they’ve confronted the things that made them unhappy, like remaining in an unhealthy marriage dynamic. 

Co-parenting or shared parenting has also helped some former spouses living together to present a united front. Despite their living arrangement, they still contend with children who try to take advantage of their divorce.

As kids attempt to suss out which parent is more lenient about this or that, it presents opportunities for co-parents to pull together. 

Tips for Making Co-Parenting in the Same House Work

Is there any evidence that shows living under one roof as co-parents is good for kids? To date, studies prove scarce.

Research does, however, show that children do better with two parents in their lives. Not only do they develop better, but they prove physically healthier. 

Can most separated or divorced parents make co-parenting under the same roof work? Probably not. That said, some former couples swear by it. 

What if, despite the odds, the advantages of living with your ex-spouse prove too compelling to ignore? In that case, some expert tips to help you navigate the situation may be in order.

These suggestions include:

  • Defining the relationship
  • Setting expectations about interactions with the children
  • Deciding on responsibilities
  • Defining the space
  • Laying out next steps

Let’s take a closer look at each of these tips so that you can move forward constructively. 

Redefining a Joint Custody Relationship

Like the co-parents showcased above, begin by defining your relationship. There’s a continuum. From roommates who share a house and do some things together to boarders who spend little to no time together. 

Figure out where your relationship falls on this continuum. What will the associated expectations be? 

Create a set of ground rules to inform how you proceed as a family and as co-parents. That way, you’ll avoid misunderstandings and hurt feelings.

Questions to help you define the parameters of your relationship include:

  • Will we share planned time together?
  • Are we doing what we did before without the physical intimacy?
  • Are we both free to date and pursue other relationships with friends and new partners?

Yes, some of these questions can get thorny quickly. If you don’t clearly and honestly lay out the rules now, though, somebody will get hurt. 

Setting Expectations About Interactions with the Children

You and your former partner should take time to discuss matters like how to address childcare. You should also consider what type of family time will be permitted. 

For example, will you take turns parenting the children at separate, pre-determined times? Will you otherwise maintain different households? Or, will you still engage in some level of family time, such as a Friday game night?

Do you feel like you’re splitting hairs at this point? That’s okay. Ironing out potential wrinkles now will prevent emotional distress down the road.

Deciding on Responsibilities

Like roommates, sit down with your co-parent and discuss the “new” house rules. Since you’re separated but living together with kids, you must get on the same page. 

How will you divide up the refrigerator and pantry? Who will handle the dishes? And the garbage? 

Likewise, you’ll want to sort out issues like who’s responsible for yard maintenance? How will other items, such as cars, be shared? By the same token, how will utility bills get split up?

Defining the Space

Once upon a time, living under the same roof to co-parent was known as a “poor man’s separation.” It involved unceremoniously hanging a blanket on a clothesline down the center of the room.

Fortunately, today’s accommodations are generally more spacious. Now couples can split up their living space. One may opt to live downstairs or in the basement while the other occupies the upstairs level or main floor.

No matter how you choose to define your space, make the process fair and transparent. You’ll also need to make decisions about common areas such as the kitchen, garage, washroom, and pantry. Once this work is done, respect the rules. 

Laying out Next Steps

Before committing to anything, decide how long the current situation will be in place. Is it an arrangement that’ll continue until one partner saves up enough money to move out? Or, is this something that you and your co-parent would like to do until your children are grown?

Of course, there are many shades of gray along this spectrum, too. Some uncoupled housemates look at an in-house separation as part of a larger goal. This goal might be a smoother divorce transition for children, or it might involve financial or emotional next steps. 

Whatever the case, you owe it to yourself and your co-parent to be as honest as possible about the outcome. 

Separating with Kids Involved

Are you separated but living together because of a joint custody arrangement? You and your co-parent can make it work, at least for the short-term. However, you’ll need to take steps to redefine your relationship and set expectations. 

The key to being divorced but living together? Keeping the lines of communication open.

Sometimes, you may feel as though you’re discussing minutiae, but remember this. Half an ounce of prevention is worth half a pound of cure. The same proves true when it comes to argument-free, live-in co-parenting. 

Not sure where to start when it comes to crafting a plan that supports living together after separation or divorce? Begin by creating a successful parenting plan. Here’s a full breakdown of what to include in your plan.  

Navigating Mother’s Day and Joint Custody

Mother's day

Going through a divorce is one of the most difficult life events to endure. As hard as it is on the two people going through it, joint custody situations can be even harder on the life of the children in the family. 

It doesn’t matter what has happened between the grown-ups, the children ALWAYS have to be the focus of every decision, every interaction, and every action.  Co-parenting isn’t easy. It can be hard to have shared custody and work out a parenting plan with someone who may be your least favorite person in the world. 

That’s why every custody agreement decision and parenting plan aspect has to be about your favorite people on earth- your children.

Keep reading for divorce tips for moms who are worried about Mother’s Day 2020 in a joint custody situation.

Creating a Joint Custody Parenting Plan

If you don’t already have a co-parenting plan in writing, it is important to do so. Not only for your peace of mind but for your children. There will be much less stress and turmoil if both parents know in advance when they have time with the children and when they will not.

The more details and plans you work out before the issue arises, the easier it will be to avoid arguments and aggravation. You won’t have to fight for your rights because they’ll already be laid out in a well constructed and thought out parenting plan.

This will be easier for some co-parents than others. If you don’t know where to start you may want to start with some legal advice to protect your rights and the rights of your children. For some couples, this won’t be necessary to work out parenting time as both parties will be focused on the most efficient and effective plan for the children. 

Other couples may find themselves bickering over every line and detail. That’s why it’s better to get it out of the way all at once and just have to do some fine tuning to an already established agreement rather than having to argue over every exchange and visitation.

No matter what your situation, there are ways to figure out a plan that works for everyone.

Stress-Free Holiday Schedule for the Kids 

Many times holidays can be filled with stress because parents are worried about what is fair for them. Or getting the upper hand. It can make it hard to make any holiday schedule work. But if you both sit down, either separately or together and write down what you think is best to give the children the best holiday possible, it will be easier to come to an agreement. 

Some parents insist on splitting a holiday like Christmas morning between the two houses. This may seem fair to the parents but the children end up spending their Christmas morning rushing through the experience at both houses and dealing with the custody exchange rather than enjoying their Christmas presents.

Try to envision a new tradition of switching on Boxing Day and having Christmas morning twice for the kids instead of them only really getting a fragment of one. Many parents decide to alternate years where they experience Christmas eve and morning with the children.

Mother’s day and Father’s day are a little different. They are a day that you may want to ensure part of the day is spent with mom on Mother’s day and Dad on Father’s Day. Often it is stipulated in the custody agreement or parenting plan what the arrangement will be each year no matter who’s weekend it falls on

Always Remember the Kids

The crisis of a marriage or family breaking up and the dynamics changing is hard for everyone. But even after the dust settles, the children have to live with the parenting plan. You are deciding not who gets them when but how they spend their life and their special occasions. 

Vindictive decisions about what time you agree to give another parent or not considering how the arrangement works in a five, ten or twelve year old’s mind can cause long term stress for everyone. It may be fair to switch between the two houses every day for the parents but that could cause a lot of stress of a kid who is dealing with school and homework, friends, and other life stresses that are compounded by bouncing back and forth.

Each time they switch between parents they end up stressed and often nagged about whether they remembered everything, or why they didn’t bring something that they should have. They may not get to enjoy their time with either parent and the parenting plan isn’t serving its purpose. It needs to be the best thing for the kids.

Most children want to be celebrating Mother’s day with their mom. While that isn’t always possible there are ways to still try and find a way to make it special for the children. If the kids are at dad’s maybe they could be allotted some time on Skype, Facetime or Zoom to have a virtual brunch with mom. 

Find Effective Ways To Communicate

You may be struggling to communicate with your ex right now. In fact, the sight of them may make you feel ill but it won’t always be like that. Whether you like it or not your ex is a big part of your children’s life. Just because they are doesn’t make it any easier to deal with them. 

There are options to make it easier. After you have a written parenting plan and are putting it into action, you may need to use tools to help ease daily tension and assist in communicating.

Having a public safe drop off place can help. Using an app or service that specializes in helping implement successful parenting plans is a great resource.

Concentrate on Making Memories

Even if you can’t celebrate Mother’s Day on the actual day that everyone else does it doesn’t mean you can’t have your own special day. In fact, you are such an incredible mom you get a day all of your own!

It can be any day you want and it is Mother’s Day in your home. Do some awesome activity with the kids that you’ll all love. Have a Mother’s Day tea party or make it a dance party if that’s more your style.

If you aren’t with the kids on the actual date of Mother’s Day then spend it pampering you! You spend 365 taking care of the needs of everyone else. You spend the entire year worrying about and catering to the needs and wants of your children. 

You don’t have to look at not getting time with them on Mother’s Day as a negative thing. It can be an awesome gift of letting mom take care of mom. You can spend the day at the spa or sleep in and take a bubble bath and create a spa at home.

Shop online and take a nap without anyone asking for a snack. You can spend the day surrounded by the scent of your new apple cinnamon candle instead of the smell of a house full of your kids and their friend’s latest farting contest.

Making Mother’s Day Memories

You can make fantastic memories that will last your children a lifetime with simple ways of making the day special. A family cupcake recipe can not only be a delicious treat but a fun activity to spend the afternoon doing together. You could create cards for your mom or another significant woman in their lives.

You could have a movie festival where you build a fort in the living room, make apple caramel and popcorn balls and watch all your favorite movies from your childhood. 

Better yet, watch home videos of years gone by and enjoy the memories you’ve already created while you laugh and create some more. You could use Mother’s Day as a great time to get pictures of you and the kids, but you don’t have to spend a lot of money. Give the kids the phone or camera and let them shoot a video or take a photo journal of this year’s Mother’s Day. 

You’ll not only have fun making the movie or finding the perfect pictures to take but you’ll have media to enjoy in the years to come and be able to witness how much all of you have changed over the years.

Not only as you watch each year’s memories but also as you observe your children’s change in how they capture the day. It could be a tradition that you look forward to and cherish and for your grandchildren in generations to come to cherish as well.

It Can Always Be Special

How you let your children celebrate holidays and special occasions isn’t just about the now, it’s about the beloved activities they’ll carry on as family traditions, it is the joy and cherished memories that will become the story of their lives.

It won’t matter to them whether they celebrated Mother’s Day on the actual date that year. They won’t remember the calendar or the hour they saw you, they’ll hold on to the fun and love you shared in the time you did spend together.

If you need help making your parenting plan work for your kids then 2houses may be the solution you need.

Creating a Successful Parenting Plan

Parenting plan

Marriage and divorce have become parts of the collective American experience. Ninety percent of individuals marry by age 50. About 40 percent of these marriages end in divorce and involve a parenting plan. 

Divorces are emotionally charged experiences for all involved. Adding children to the mix intensifies these emotions.

That’s why parents must create a clear custody schedule as soon as possible. Delaying could lead to more emotional distress for your children. After all, your ex-spouse remains your children’s parent no matter what.

Communicating with your soon-to-be-ex-spouse may be the last thing you want to do. Yet, it’s essential for moving on and creating a stable environment for your children.

Keep reading for tips to help you and your co-parent get on the same page when it comes to parenting plans.

Divorce and Kids

It’s easy to get caught up in the flood of emotions associated with divorce. Remember, though, that you’re not the only individual experiencing these feelings.

Divorce can be a traumatic experience for children, too. Nonetheless, it can also lead to happier times later. Research suggests that kids who grow up around high-conflict marriages experience more significant trauma than those whose parents divorce.

How can you ease the challenges associated with divorce? By developing a parenting plan and presenting it to your children (depending on their ages). Keep the lines of communication open to reduce the risk of future arguments.

Design and Implement a Parenting Plan ASAP

Children benefit from honest conversations about the changes in their family. They also do better when a stable, consistent routine gets established from the get-go. This approach minimizes the aftershocks of divorce months and even years down the road.

Do you know what else research shows us? Kids do better when they remain close to both parents. A poor relationship with one or both parents leads to a tougher time adjusting short- and long-term. 

This information demonstrates the importance of making a parenting schedule right away and sticking to it. The faster you can design and implement the plan, the quicker your children will adjust to their new circumstances. 

Yes, you and your former spouse may still be fighting over who gets to keep certain assets. You may have lawyers arguing over child support and spousal support.

These issues, however, must not spill over into your relationships with your kids. It mustn’t affect the time each parent gets to spend with them, either.

What Is a Parenting Agreement? 

Crafting a parenting agreement sits at the top of your priority list. What should this document look like? Where should you start? 

A court-approved parenting plan should be developed and agreed to by both parents of a minor child. What if parents can’t agree on the specifics of the agreement? Then, it gets established by the court.

For a plan to be approved by the court, it must address the following:

  • The time-sharing schedule co-parents will follow
  • Details about how parents will share daily tasks and responsibilities related to child-rearing
  • Designation of who will be responsible for health care, school-related events, and other activities
  • The methods and technologies parents will use to communicate with each other and their child
  • Child support payments and schedule

What is a time-sharing schedule? It’s a timetable or calendar included in the parenting plan.  It should show how much time a child spends with each parent, including overnights and holidays.

Making a Parenting Plan

How to write a parenting plan? This agreement should outline how each parent will continue to care for and provide for their children.

Fortunately, advanced management calendar software can help. It lets parents develop, share, and apply a custody plan, from creating a calendar to managing expenses and other communications.

As you build a co-parenting plan, streamline the process with software designed to handle all aspects of co-parenting. Besides containing the information the court needs, this software can help you add items about:

  • Medical and health care
  • Education and extracurricular activities 
  • Information about exchanges 
  • Parenting guidelines 
  • Child and parent relationships 
  • Childcare
  • Traveling and relocating with the child
  • Child support and financial information

Let’s break each of these elements down further. We’ll also look at how they can help kids feel more stable and reassured during and after a divorce.

Medical and Health Care

What should the medical and health care portion of the plan address? For starters, who pays for medical and dental costs. It must also stipulate which parent will cover insurance expenses and for how long. 

It should explain who will transport the kids to and from medical appointments. You should also address special needs children and specific medical concerns. 

Educational and Extracurricular Activities

As for education and extracurricular matters? These include decisions like where the child will go to school and how they’ll get there. It should also address paying for school expenses and activities. For example, be sure to define who attends parent-teacher conferences and school events.

Don’t forget about extracurricular activities, either. Which activities will be permitted? How will parents be expected to support these endeavors?

For example, if your child participates in karate, who will pay for classes? Who will transport your child to practices and belt tests?

Information About Exchanges

The details associated with exchanges should also be hashed out ahead of time. These include where exchanges will take place and who will transport children to each one. Your plan should also contain provisions for bad weather and driving-related issues.

After all, unforeseen circumstances may arise from time to time. Whether they involve a traffic jam, snowstorm, or late arrival to an exchange. Having a plan head of time will help you and your co-parent to avoid conflict. 

Parenting Guidelines

Deciding on parental guidelines will make life go more smoothly for all involved. Being on the same page about discipline, bedtime routines, and more, will also create a greater sense of stability for your children. 

Other issues to consider include alcohol and tobacco use around your kids. You may also wish to include language about the types of movies and television shows permitted. 

Child and Parent Relationships

When your child is with their co-parent, how much communication will you have with them? It’s important to decide this upfront. Of course, you’ll need to extend the same courtesy in return.

Will your children keep in touch through telephone or video calls? If so, how often and when? Deciding these details in advance will reduce everybody’s anxiety levels. 

Parents may also include information about co-parenting best practices. These include not talking about each other to the children, avoiding offhand comments, and refraining from using kids as messengers. 

Childcare Considerations

What happens when your co-parent is unavailable to watch your child during a pre-scheduled parenting time? Many parents like to set up a first right of refusal option. This option allows them to watch their child instead of a babysitter or other individual. 

Traveling and Relocating

What about family vacations and other travel plans? How about the potential for relocation? These two topics can lead to heated exchanges quickly, especially if co-parents don’t give each other much notice of their travel plans.

When you don’t provide the proper notice before traveling or relocating, you may incur the wrath of the court. It may find you in violation of your custody agreement. In some cases, courts can even bar parents from moving a child out of a city or county. 

Child Support and Financial Information

Child support likely comes up first when you think of post-divorce finances. You’ll soon realize, however, that many other types of financial obligations arise. These include everything from extracurricular activities to medical insurance and taxes. 

In your parenting plan, specify which parent will claim the children on their taxes. List who will pay for what. You’ll also want to include language about how one parent will reimburse the other for child-related expenses. 

Other Considerations

As you work out a plan, always put your children’s needs first. Remember that they should have access to both parents unless there are extenuating circumstances. (For example, addiction or domestic violence may preclude a parent’s right to their children.) 

Don’t put kids in the middle or make them feel as if they must choose a side. Do, however, ask older kids for their feedback and opinions. Consider what they want and how you can incorporate it into your parenting plan.

Teenagers, for example, often have busy lives and are gaining a greater sense of independence. If you hamper this budding self-reliance, it could make them resent you. 

Parenting Plans After Divorce

Do you feel overwhelmed by all of the potential topics you should cover in your parenting plan? If so, remember this. The more parenting-related issues you and your co-parent can resolve upfront, the less conflicts you’ll see later.

Stay reasonable and clear in your communication of parental roles and responsibilities. This practice will help you avoid conflict down the road, which is an excellent thing for you and your kids post-divorce.

Looking for more information about crafting a parenting plan? Check out our article on four tips for maintaining excellent communication during a divorce. 

Co-Parenting With a Narcissist: How to Make It Work

Co-parenting and narcissist

Parenting is never easy. It’s a full-time job that requires you to drop your personal needs to tend to other human lives.

That full-time job becomes all the more difficult to perform when you’re co-parenting with someone that has a narcissistic personality disorder. Fortunately, parenting a child with an NPD co-parent isn’t impossible.

It will take several actionable steps, with you championing a lot of the “first steps”. If you’re at a loss for where to start, then consider different techniques.

Here are several tips on co-parenting with a narcissist. Be sure to consider all of these methods and find the ones that will work best for you.

1. Always Prioritize the Children Above the Co-Parent

Divorce is hard enough as is, and you might be stressing the importance of your children having both parents in their life, if possible.

However, their need for both parents isn’t so great that it beats out the other needs of your children.

Dealing with a narcissistic father or mother means that they won’t be able to place your children’s needs ahead of their own. That’s why it’s up to you to make those decisions.

Of course, you don’t want to hurt the other parent’s feelings, but that’s a minute concern when it comes to doing what’s best for your kid(s).

If at any point you feel like your ex-spouse is using your children for their own personal gain, it’s time to take action. Remove your kids from the situation as much as possible and attempt to reach a solution.

2. Set Ground Rules for Communication

Co-parenting with your ex can get dicey when it comes to proper communication practices. In fact, the narcissistic parent will try to flat-out ignore your wishes on how they speak with you and the child.

That’s why it’s important to set up ground rules for how they’ll communicate with both as soon as possible.

There will be an adjustment period for everyone involved, so try not to become frustrated.

Be sure to set up borders for when and how you talk to each other. For example, try to use email as the primary form of communication between you and the other parent.

Email will help remove emotion from the verbiage (as much as possible) so that you both can attempt to have clear discussions.

The narcissistic parent will undoubtedly try to frustrate you with some responses that they send. Email is the best way for you to give yourself enough time to respond and read over what you send before you send it.

3. Set Up Call Times with the Children

Modern-day technology has made it increasingly difficult for parents to control how often their ex-spouse communicates with their child.

As you probably know by now, your narcissistic co-parent will try any and every way to reach the child against your wishes.

Try to set specific times that the parent can call the child while you have visitation with them. The other parent will try to push you on this, so don’t budge.

Even if they agree to the call times that you’ve set, they might still try to blow up the child’s cell phone with text messages to instigate. If you catch on to this, remain calm and try to get the child to ignore their messages for the duration of your visit.

4. Conjure Up a Legal Parenting Outline

Your personal requests and demands won’t mean much to the narcissistic parent, even if they’ve agreed to those you’ve listed out.

Because of that, you want to find something that’s legally-binding. Something in writing that can protect you from the co-parent’s unpredictability.

Their NPD will influence them to try and be involved in everyone’s lives as much as they possibly can. However, a legal agreement will cause them to think twice before stirring things up.

Legal parenting agreements can include terms such as the education plans for the children, visitation schedules, health care for the kids, and other responsibilities.

Remember to be the bigger adult and remain as reasonable as possible. Think about what your children want and how you can mold a parenting plan to fit it.

If you have concerns about the process or about your narcissistic co-parent, be sure to bring them up as you meet with an attorney. They can recommend different options.

Of course, an interactive calendar might also serve as a huge breakthrough for interacting and scheduling with the co-parent.

5. Remove Your Child from the Middle

Odds are that there will always be minor and major feuds between you and your ex-spouse. 

What’s important is that you remember to remove your child from the middle of the altercation. It doesn’t matter how old they are, they should never have to get involved in the ongoing battle.

Don’t be surprised if the narcissistic parent tries to place your children in a situation where they have to pick between the two.

Don’t buy into the trap they’re laying out for you. The top priority should always be the safety and the happiness of your kids. They love you both and want both of you to be involved in their lives.

The narcissistic parent might try to fill your child’s head with lies, and it’s up to you to put an end to it.

Ask them often if the other parent has tried to use them as a spy against you at one point or another.

Try to communicate the fact that you don’t hate their other parent. Make sure they know that both mom and dad love them very much and want the best life possible for them.

6. Use Counseling to Your Advantage

Dealing with a narcissistic co-parent in everyday life is an unprecedented situation to most people. There’s no clear-cut rule book on how to deal with them. Every NPD is different.

Because of that, you want to make sure you and your children have a space to talk through things. 

Counseling can provide a setting for you to work out feelings both individually and/or together.

In fact, there are many tremendous benefits of counseling. Such perks include things like mental relief, increased self-confidence, and self-acceptance.

It will also help you and your children to improve your communication and gratitude towards the situations you’re blessed with. 

The counselor that you frequently visit will help you see things through a different scope and tackle the frustrations you have head-on. This will also be a great exercise to lessen the burden of the emotional load that you’re carrying on your shoulders.

7. Control What You Can Control

If there’s one thing that you’ll learn about co-parenting with a self-absorbed person, it’s that you won’t be able to control their actions.

Attempting to show enough emotion to get through to them will only make things worse. Narcissists feed off of high emotions and frustrations if you show it to them.

Not only that, but trying to control other people, narcissist or not, will lead to more frustration that you’re inflicting on yourself. Instead, focus on the things you do and the actions that you take.

The best way to start change is to ignite change within yourself. Don’t expect the other parent to follow your lead. 

If you find self-control then you’ll be more at peace with situations that would otherwise lead to anger and sadness.

8. Lead by Example

You’re the bigger adult, here. You are the one that will serve as the primary example for your children. 

As much as they might love the other parent, even younger kids understand who the responsible parent is in their life. Therefore, it’s completely up to you to set a standard for your child’s behavior.

If they see you work through your feelings by throwing things around the house, then they will grow up to do the same thing.

You need to focus on showing your kid(s) the right way to do all things in life. As they grow up, they’ll come to admire your dedication to raising them the right way, even with a narcissist for a co-parent.

Find the Balance for Co-Parenting with a Narcissist!

Now that you’ve seen several helpful suggestions and tips for co-parenting with a narcissist, it’s time to put them into practice.

While that can be easier than done, it’s important to take each tip one step at a time.

Be sure to read this article on co-parenting during the coronavirus and how to work through visitation during this pandemic.

What Are the NC Custody Laws for Unmarried Parents?

NC custody law

One of the most challenging parts of a breakup or divorce remains settling on child custody. Unmarried couples save themselves much of the hassle associated with a divorce. Yet, they may still end up in family court if they can’t come to a custody agreement.

As it turns out, many of the legal difficulties experienced by unmarried couples prove similar to those of divorcing parents. What’s more, as circumstances change down the road, issues such as the introduction of new significant others into children’s lives can cause conflict. That’s why even amicably splitting couples should seek the help of a family attorney to craft a custody agreement. That way, they can create an arrangement that stipulates expectations and rights based on a thorough understanding of NC custody laws. 

Fortunately, NC child custody laws for unmarried parents are clear when it comes to child custody cases. Let’s take a closer look at the laws governing parental rights in NC. 

Mother’s Rights in NC

One of the fundamentally essential considerations in NC custody law? The relationship of the parent to the child involved. In other words, unmarried mothers and fathers have different rights under the law. 

While there are always exceptions to the rule, here’s how the law works. Under NC child custody law, an unmarried mother gets primary or natural right to custody following the birth of a child. This arrangement only applies when no father is named on the birth certificate or steps forward to make a custody claim.

In essence, the mother has the legal right to exercise control, care, and custody of the child. The mother’s claim and, therefore, rights remain more significant than those of the father or anyone else.

However, additional proceedings may result in alterations of these child custody rights in NC. During these proceedings, the biological father or another close family member must prove that the mother is unfit to raise her children. Or they must show she’s abandoned them.

Father’s Rights in NC

When it comes to father’s rights NC, they start with the name appearing on the birth certificate. Why? Because the parents are unmarried. 

In situations where a couple was married, however, the courts will assume that any children produced during the marriage are a result of the union. 

As a result, an unmarried father whose name doesn’t appear on the birth certificate has no grounds for custody. Especially if the mother is a good parent. For fathers who can establish a relationship, however, they may be able to secure custody or visitation through a court order.

Before all else, you must establish paternity. Once completed, the father can petition the court to have his name added to the child’s birth certificate. After that, the father will receive notifications of proceedings related to custody. 

Because of the placement of their name on the birth certificate, the father gets automatic recognition as the legal father. The father also receives an equal amount of standing in court as the mother. 

Of course, like the mother, the father’s rights to custody get determined by the family court judge’s decision about their parental suitability. 

Types of Custody

Three types of custody typically get awarded during NC child custody proceedings. These arrangements include:

  • Sole custody
  • Joint custody
  • Third-party custody

Let’s take a closer look at each type of custody, starting with sole custody.

Sole Custody

Sole custody can refer to either physical or legal custody. Sole legal custody grants one parent the responsibility and right to make decisions about a child’s health, education, and welfare. 

As for physical custody, it refers to the right of one parent to have a child reside with them. The custodial parent is tasked with all primary care of the minor. Usually the non-custodial parent provides child support. 

Joint Custody

Joint custody refers to the sharing of significant parental responsibilities between both parents. This arrangement may lead to a 50/50 custody agreement. Don’t assume that it will, though.

Joint custody does imply, however, shared responsibility when it comes to choices related to a child’s health, welfare, and education. 

Third-Party Custody

Third-party custody refers to situations where someone other than a parent seeks custody of a minor. This third-party individual generally would not have legal standing. However, NC may consider extended family relationships such as godparents, family, neighbors, and siblings. 

In determining whether or not a third-party placement makes the best sense for a child, the court will look at the length of time the party has known the child. They’ll also consider whether or not the parent consents to the third-party having custody.

When it comes to a third-party placement, the courts will also decide whether or not each parent has carried out their parental responsibilities. 

Extenuating Circumstances

Parents should recognize there’s a distinction between legal and physical custody. Co-parents may share legal custody without sharing physical custody. 

In other words, even though one co-parent may have primary physical custody (and the child residing with them), both parents will still be asked to make decisions regarding healthcare, education, etc. 

As a result, custody decisions may not be as cut and dry as you anticipate. That’s why it’s critical to seek legal representation so that you fully understand your rights.

Joint Custody and a Child’s Best Interests

Judges make joint custody rulings based on the best interests of a child. Certain extenuating circumstances may affect a custody outcome, however. These include:

  • Domestic violence
  • A special-needs child
  • Long distances between parents’ addresses
  • Other relevant and exceptional circumstances

Other factors that could change a joint custody ruling include:

  • How the parents have acted on the child’s best interests in the past
  • The moral conduct, standard, and actions of the parents
  • The quality of the relationship between a parent and child
  • Which parent is more likely to allow the child more frequent contact with their co-parent

Suitable evidence presented to illustrate that joint custody is not in the best interest of the child could, ultimately, impact a final judgment. 

Types of Custody and Visitation

We can distill down child custody rulings into three broad categories. There are countless variations and configurations when put into practice, though. What’s more, it’s important to remember that courts generally grant both parents legal custody. 

As a result, legal custody is not an indication of which parent is most likely to get physical custody. Remember that it’s quite common for co-parents to share legal custody, even when the child resides primarily in one home. 

In such a case, the other parent usually gets regular visitation rights outlined on a court-approved annual calendar. This parent also has a say in important decisions impacting the child’s life. Such an arrangement is known as joint legal custody and sole physical custody. 

The bottom line with this type of custody arrangement? Both parents must work together to make decisions about their children’s upbringings.

This approach requires diplomacy and the establishment of a positive co-parenting relationship with healthy communication. That said, the court may designate one parent as the “tie-breaker” in cases where disputes are not otherwise quickly resolved. 

In some instances, courts may grant each parent decision-making rights when it comes to specific topics of scenarios. 

Joint Custody Pros and Cons

When it comes to joint physical custody, you’ll find both advantages and consequences to this situation. Here are a few things to keep in mind when considering your custody options.

The Pros of Joint Custody

By its very nature, joint physical custody requires co-parents to reach mutual decisions. They also must interact, even if only briefly, on a regular basis.

This arrangement may be the last thing you want to do at the end of a relationship. Nevertheless, you must consider your children’s best interests.

In most cases, children benefit from seeing their parents work together to compromise and come to decisions. Under ideal circumstances, they should witness interactions that are healthy where two mature adults handle their differences with grace.

Rest assured that this type of cooperation will get easier over time. As you and your former partner learn how to co-parent, you’ll reach a certain level of effectiveness with regard to:

  • Consequences
  • Rules
  • Bedtimes
  • Meals
  • Other child-rearing decisions

There will be challenges along the way. Keeping in mind that parenting is a dynamic process will help you through the difficulties. You should also go into the arrangement anticipating occasional ups and downs.

When it comes to major decisions such as medical care and education, however, you may find that your co-parent’s input is much appreciated. 

The Cons of Joint Custody

Of course, when it comes to major decisions, it can also prove difficult to come to a consensus. You may even find times where it’s impractical to reach out to the other parent before making a decision. For example, scheduling a follow-up appointment with a doctor.

In situations where one parent is extra aggressive, the other co-parent may feel as if their voice isn’t being heard. 

Forcing two individuals to collaborate, especially when they’ve broken up due to fundamental differences, can feel stressful. That’s why it’s crucial to maintain healthy co-parenting communication skills.

Otherwise, it can be all too easy for decision-making sessions to turn into contentious debates where verbal or even physical attacks may occur.

Healthy Co-Parenting Tips

What are some fantastic co-parenting skills that can make things go more smoothly? They include the following:

  • Setting clear boundaries
  • Creating and adhering to a predetermined schedule
  • Understanding and flexibility
  • Talking to each other ahead of time about schedule changes
  • Deferring to a co-parent for child care before calling the babysitter
  • Attending parenting-related events (e.g., school functions) without tension

Keeping these tips in mind will help you move forward in a positive way that’s better for everyone involved, especially your kids.

Setting Clear Boundaries

Starting with clear boundaries will help you and your co-parent manage expectations moving forward. This step will require the development of excellent communication skills, but the effort will prove well worth it. 

Creating and Adhering to a Predetermined Schedule

As for creating and adhering to a schedule, it doesn’t need to be complicated. It does, however, require clearance from each co-parent to avoid scheduling conflicts. Learn more about how to create a custody calendar

Understanding and Flexibility

Let’s face it. Life happens.

While it might feel tempting to hold your co-parent to rigid standards when it comes to unforeseen circumstances, don’t. Remaining understanding and flexible now sets a great model for your kids to see. 

What’s more, you never know when something unexpected might come up in your schedule. Wouldn’t you like to be shown the same basic courtesy down the line?

Address Potential Schedule Conflicts as Soon as They Arise

Of course, wherever possible, you should look ahead and address potential schedule conflicts with as much advanced warning as possible. That way, nobody’s left scrambling at the last minute. 

Give Your Co-Parent First Right fo Refusal

Do you need a babysitter for an upcoming event? It’s generally considered good co-parenting etiquette to give your child’s other parent the first right of refusal before calling a babysitter

Find out more about the dos and don’ts of excellent communication after a divorce or breakup. 

Saying “Bye-Bye” to Tension

How do you know that co-parenting has reached a level of maturity and success? By your ability to attend the same events without tension so thick that you can cut it. 

NC Custody Laws

Unmarried people don’t have to navigate the legal difficulties associated with divorce. When children are involved, however, sorting out their custody often leads to family court involvement.

In situations where no father’s name appears on the birth certificate, the mother will enjoy primary legal and physical custody. That means she is responsible for all decisions and actions necessary for a child’s welfare, control, and care. 

To have his name added to a birth certificate, a father must prove paternity and then petition the court. Once this relationship gets established on paper, both parents become joint custody holders. Depending on the situation, though, there may still be many things to iron out in court. 

Understanding NC custody laws represents a first step towards the best outcome for your child. Are you a separated parent looking for tips on how to communicate more effectively with a co-parent? Or, maybe you want to become better organized for the well-being of your children?

We’re here to help. Subscribe to our 2houses app to keep everything from custody to child support payments in one central location. 

Make Chores More Fun for Your Kids

Kids chores divorced parents

There is no question about the wisdom of getting your kids to do household chores. Giving them the chance to help around the house allows them to become proactive and learn how to be responsible, useful members of the household, on their way to becoming the exact same thing for society in general when they grow up.

Chores, however, can be tedious. After all, chores are repetitive by nature since they need to be done over and over again over time, and they can get boring to many kids real fast.

Then again, chores need not be boring. Whatever tasks you may have listed on the chore chart app you’re using, you can spice them up a bit and make doing them more fun.

Here are some tips that will help make chores more fun for your kids.

Socks Hoops

Do you remember the words the late NBA great Kobe Bryant wrote for the poem “Dear Basketball,” which was used as the basis for his Oscar-winning animated short film? He said something along the lines of rolling up his dad’s tube socks and pretending they were basketballs and shooting imaginary game-winning shots, right there in his bedroom.

We can get our child a task with rolling up freshly-laundered socks to do the same thing. Have your kid roll up all those socks, then shoot them into the open sock drawer a few feet away. You can even put up a small basketball hoop on top of the drawer to make things even more realistic!

Set Up A Little Friendly Competition

If you’ve got more than one child, then a little competition is in order to spice up their chores.

Let’s say the task is cleaning up their bedrooms. Assuming that their rooms are of the same size, set a timer, and tell them that the one who finishes the chore first wins and gets a reward.

You should, however, check if the task was done well before declaring a winner. After all, the whole thing is a race, and they might end up doing a sloppy job because they’re doing everything in a hurry.

Scavenger Hunts

If scavenger hunts can be fun activities for adults, then you can only imagine how much your kids are going to love it, even when they’re actually performing chores. Incorporate a scavenger hunt into their tasks, and you’ll have children who will look forward to doing them.

Put up clues all over the house and ask your kids to solve them one by one. Whenever they figure out a clue, get them to do a simple task first, like sweeping the floor or taking out the trash, before they can move on to the next one, and so on. Give out a prize for the one who finishes the hunt first, and your kids will be more motivated than ever to come out on top while doing their chores.

Sock Mopping

No one ever said mopping the floors is fun, but it can offer loads of it if you use old socks for the chore!

Sock mopping is probably the most enjoyable—and silliest—way of cleaning tile floors.

For this task, all you will ever need are old socks that you don’t use anymore, and a bucket or basin of soapy water. Have your kids wear the socks, dip their feet into the soapy water, and slide around on the floor. Put on some dance music, and you’ll have tons of fun slipping and sliding on the way to a clean floor!

For safety reasons as well as more room to slip and slide, make sure you remove tables, chairs, and other things from the floor you and your kids are sock mopping. Also, never leave them unsupervised for the duration of the activity.


Whatever chore you and your child are doing, it will surely become more fun to do when you put your favorite nursery rhymes or even musicals on and sing along to them. Washing dishes or dusting and wiping down surfaces will seem to be so easy to do when you’re both blurting out tunes from their favorite Disney movies!

These are just some of the things you can do to make chores more fun for your kids. Feel free to think up some more and make your kids look forward to the tasks you assign them!

Parallel Parenting vs.Co-Parenting: What’s the Difference?

Parallel parenting

Family therapists extoll the benefits of co-parenting and with good reason. Countless studies demonstrate that kids do better when they remain in regular contact with both parents.

What’s more, research indicates that parents who co-parent experience less conflict. Especially when compared to custody arrangements where one individual holds sole custody. 

Of course, successful co-parenting requires maturity on the part of both exes. To minimize the pain felt by children after a split, parents should avoid dealing with conflict in front of them. This approach also helps children foster a sense of resilience over the long-term.

Situations exist, however, where parallel parenting remains the better option. Let’s explore the differences between co-parenting and parallel parenting. We’ll also take a look at situations where each approach works better.

The Co-Parenting Approach

What is co-parenting? Co-parenting is when two separated or divorced parents share the bulk of child-rearing responsibilities. This approach provides children with access to both parents. 

When parents maintain equivalent or equal responsibility for the upbringing of their children, their offspring benefit.

How? Studies show that children of divorce who spend at least 35 percent of their time with each parent are more well-adjusted. They manifest greater behavioral and psychological health. They also enjoy increased academic success.

Of course, there are caveats to this approach, especially if one or both parents are deemed unable to care for their children. Those rare cases aside, however, co-parenting remains a viable, healthy means of child-rearing post-divorce. 

Co-parenting provides a wonderful opportunity for children to stay in close contact with both parents. The arrangement also provides kids with the psychological space and permission to love both parents–without taking sides. 

Things to Keep in Mind About Co-Parenting

Co-parenting comes with its own set of unique challenges. These include the necessity of fostering a long-term relationship with your ex. At least until your kids are grown. This aspect of co-parenting, alone, can make separating or divorcing partners feel uneasy. 

If you choose to go this route, establish healthy boundaries. Set up clear, firm rules about communication from the get-go. Schedule time to sit down with your ex to discuss a parenting schedule.

You’ll also need to touch bases occasionally to discuss what’s going on with your kids. As children get older, you’ll need to stay on the same page about schooling, homework, behavior, and consequences. Without regular communication, misunderstandings can occur.

What’s more, kids of divorce sometimes learn to take advantage of communication gaps between parents to avoid chores, consequences, and more. Here are some useful tips for keeping communication open to promote an amicable divorce

Flexibility and Co-Parenting Over Time

As children grow, their needs change. You must take this into account as you develop a co-parenting agreement. Younger children adjust better with fewer transitions between homes.

As for adolescents and teens? They’ll want input when it comes to decisions about custody schedules. As they commit to extracurricular activities and first jobs, don’t be surprised if your custody calendar requires some workarounds. 

You and your ex should revisit the schedule from time to time. After all, it represents a tool to help you both meet your children’s needs, especially as they grow. Find out more about creating a custody calendar.

The better your relationship with your ex, the easier these conversations will go. Respectful communication, clear expectations, and firm boundaries will help you achieve the most favorable outcome. 

When Co-Parenting Hurts Children

Of course, there are times when co-parenting isn’t the best approach. Parents who remain angry and hostile towards one another need an alternative. Otherwise, continued conflicts can create painful situations for kids.

Children may feel as if they’re stuck in a battle of wills or conflict of loyalties. They may find it difficult to interact with their parents, particularly when they feel pressured to pick a side.

When one parent complains about the other in front of the kids? The children suffer.

To make co-parenting work, parents should never bad-mouth their ex in front of their children. They should also avoid sending messages to their co-parent through a child.

After all, kids should enjoy their childhoods. They shouldn’t have to repeatedly deal with baggage from you and your ex’s previous relationship.

Not all parents can make a mutually respectful relationship with an ex work, though. That’s when another approach, parallel parenting, comes into play. 

The Parallel Parenting Approach

While co-parenting remains the ideal, it isn’t always possible. Interacting with an ex during drop-offs, speaking to your ex, or making shared decisions isn’t for everyone. 

What happens if you give co-parenting a try but realize it’s not going to work? Then, creating a parallel parenting plan is in order.

It will help you and your ex establish firm boundaries while removing much of the potential for conflict during face-to-face meetings. It’ll also minimize the number of interactions you and your ex need to have at all. 

What is parallel parenting? This approach refers to a type of co-parenting where former partners disengage from one another. 

They limit direct contact with each other, too. Particularly in situations where they’ve demonstrated they can’t communicate respectfully. 

Guidelines for parallel parenting include:

  • Minimizing conflict by sharing a custody schedule via a calendar, app, or in writing
  • Avoiding the communication of personal information 
  • Communicating politely without involving the children 
  • Avoiding all schedule changes without a written agreement
  • Communicating in a non-personal, business-like manner
  • Communicating information relevant to your children’s well-being

These ground rules help parents remain disengaged from each other while staying close to their kids.

Things to Keep in Mind About Parallel Parenting

Parallel parenting doesn’t mean that parents are any less committed to making responsible decisions about their children’s upbringing. This approach does mean, however, that exes decide on the logistics of day-to-day parenting separately. That said, you’ll still need to coordinate schedules, drop-offs, pick-ups, etc.

Apps such as 2houses can help you and your ex get on the same page when it comes to custody schedules, support payments, and more. This technology can minimize interactions and misunderstandings. It’s a win-win for all involved. 

Parallel parenting works well to decrease friction associated with high conflict situations. Through this initial approach, former partners may also lay a foundation for co-parenting if and when they feel ready to put aside past hostilities. 

By focusing on the best interests of their children, many parents eventually move beyond contentious relationships. Over time, they may even cultivate a healthy understanding grounded in mutual respect. 

The Benefits of Co-Parenting and Parallel Parenting

Whether former partners opt for co-parenting or parallel parenting, both approaches can work well. They also both come with clear advantages. These include:

  • Enjoying better psychological adjustment into adulthood
  • Feeling a greater sense of security
  • Growing up with healthier parental role models
  • Fostering good communication skills
  • Developing better problem-solving skills

As you can see, the rewards of successful co-parenting and parallel parenting far outweigh the difficulties. Yes, exes must work through their differences, but it’ll prove well worth it.

By keeping your eye on the prize, a healthy, well-adjusted child, you can make achieving a parenting arrangement easier. After all, maintaining a cordial relationship with your child’s other parent is better for everyone involved. 

Remaining positive and respectful will help you avoid making children feel as if they need to choose between you and your ex. You’ll also guarantee that they don’t feel stuck in the middle. 

The disintegration of a romantic relationship can feel all-encompassing. As a result, it’s easy to overlook the ramifications of such a life event on your kids. There are ways to lessen the stress and anxiety they experience, though.

That way, they can focus on living happily and harmoniously in two homes moving forward.

How to Help Younger Children Adjust to Two Homes

How do you best help children under the age of ten get used to life under two roofs? Start by reassuring your children that they still have two parents who love them.

What happens if your child doesn’t want to go with their other parent when it’s their scheduled time? Sit down together and have a heart-to-heart conversation. Let your children know that even though mom and dad are no longer together, that doesn’t mean either one loves them any less.

Reassure them, too, that you’re both still good parents. Finally, let them know that mom and dad are cooperating to make sure they get plenty of time with each of you.

Maintain a Sense of Regularity and Structure

It’s also important to encourage younger kids to stick to the custody agreement that you’ve set up with your ex. A consistent schedule will go a long way towards making them feel stable and safe. 

When schedule changes arise, as they will, help your kids anticipate these changes. Plan ahead by assisting kids in packing a prized possession or two.

Just remember to keep these items to a minimum. Packing a favorite blanket or stuffed animal is never a bad idea, but most parents prefer to keep duplicate items at their house.

Once your children return from visits with their other parent, remain positive or neutral about their experiences. It’s essential to set aside your differences and support your children in developing a strong relationship with your ex.

Last but not least, work hard to maintain a business-like, respectful relationship with your former significant other. That means avoiding expressions of anger in front of the kids. You don’t want to put your kids in the position of playing referee. 

How to Help Older Kids Adjust to Two Homes

When it comes to older kids, particularly teens, both parents will need to be more understanding of their hectic schedules. Many teens navigate a variety of activities each day, including school, extracurricular activities, and time spent with friends.

They may also have jobs and other responsibilities, such as preparing for college entrance exams. It can feel stressful enough for them to juggle their lives, let alone add two homes to the mix.

So, keep the lines of communication open. Also, be flexible when things come up. 

By taking some of the pressure off teens, you create an understanding environment. One where they feel supported. You also avoid resentment, which can build up when teens feel pulled in too many directions.

Allow Teens to Cultivate a Sense of Independence and Autonomy

You should also encourage your teens to spend time with their friends and other family members, including extended family. Avoid making them choose between you or their friends. After all, at this age, friends will almost always win.

One way to show your teens that you care about their friends, too? Plan some activities that incorporate them. Whether tickets to a sporting event or the movies, this approach encourages teens to bond with peers at home, too. 

Remember that teens naturally desire more autonomy at this age. It’s a healthy, though bittersweet, part of growing up.

Nevertheless, teens still need to foster relationships with their parents, even though they probably won’t admit it. As a parent, it’s your job to guide them in the right direction. 

In the Best Interests of Your Children

Co-parenting and parallel parenting offer structured solutions for child-rearing with an ex. These approaches come with benefits. They allow you to establish boundaries and protocols moving forward.

Acting mutually respectful also sets a fantastic example for your children. It helps them develop better problem-solving skills while providing them with a sense of stability and reassurance.

Ready for more sound advice to help you navigate custody arrangements? Check out this exploration of 50/50 custody and how to make it work

Shared Custody Child Support: How Is Child Support Calculated for 50/50 Custody?

Shared custody

Research says that the difficulties of divorce are more easily managed when people show compassion and kindness to themselves.

One way to show yourself kindness is to inform and prepare yourself for some of the legal matters that arise during a divorce. If you have children, that means learning about custody and child support.

If you and your former spouse have decided to split custody of your children, then you need to know about shared custody child support. That means understanding how custody works, how child support is calculated, and who will be expected to make payments. 

Don’t make the common mistake of assuming you won’t receive child support or won’t have to pay it. Keep reading to learn more.

What Is Shared Custody?

Couples don’t enter into a marriage expecting it to end in divorce. And, although it’s been steadily declining since the 1980s, the divorce rate in the US still sits at 3.2 per 1,000 people.

Divorce is a complicated matter. It’s tough on the emotional states of both individuals involved. That’s even truer when there are children involved in the marriage.

When children are involved, matters are more complex. But there are laws to help you navigate these trying times. One of those laws has to do with custody.

Divorce courts try to create the best possible outcome for children and place their well-being in their top priority. Parents must decide on custody for any children under the age of 18.

There are two basic custody arrangements to choose from. These are sole physical custody and shared physical custody.

Sole custody is often misunderstood. The term makes it sounds like one parent takes care of the child or children while the other receives no time with them. But this is an incorrect assumption.

Instead, sole custody refers to a time arrangement where one parent spends the majority of time with the child/children. But the other parent still has visitation and parenting rights, although limited.

A shared custody arrangement is the more common arrangement these days. In a shared custody arrangement, parents share the responsibility of caring for children. Both parents have frequent contact with the children as they are moved between both homes.

When custody is being decided, the courts are most concerned with the best interests of the children. So while you may feel that sole custody is best, the court may decide otherwise. You should be prepared for the outcome of the court decision regardless of your own thoughts and feelings.

Legal Versus Physical Custody

There’s also a difference between legal and physical custody. This is important to know for the purposes of child support.

Legal custody is unrelated to child support. If you have legal custody over a child, it means that you’re the one making important decisions regarding raising the child. These decisions can include things like decisions about education, religion, and even healthcare.

Physical custody, on the other hand, is related to child support. This is because physical custody has to do with time spent with the child. This is where sole custody or joint custody comes into play: how the parents share time spent with the children has everything to do with how much child support is owed or paid.

What Is Child Support?

Child support is intended to ensure that a child or children enjoy the same quality of life before and after their parent’s divorce. It covers any and all expenses related to the raising of that child. Expenses include everything from clothing and food, to housing, health insurance, and education costs.

How much child support is paid by a parent is determined by the law and varies from state to state. While some states have specific guidelines to follow, the ultimate decision comes down to the judge in the divorce court.

In most states, child support is paid to the state. The state then gives that payment to the receiving parent.

This arrangement ensures that the state has a record of all the payments made or not made, making it easier for one parent to enforce payment in the case where payments are missed or never made.

Importantly, child support is the legal right of any child involved in a divorce. Parents cannot waive their obligation to take care of their children, regardless of the circumstances of the divorce. Children maintain this right until they’re legally considered an adult at the age of 18.

This is also the case where parents are unmarried. However, in child support cases with unmarried parents, it may be necessary to prove paternity before pursuing a case.

Shared Custody Child Support

In a typical sole physical custody arrangement, one parent pays child support to the other.

The parent who pays child support is referred to as the non-custodial payment. This is the parent who spends less time with the child. The custodial parent is the parent with sole custody, who spends the majority of the time caring for the child and therefore, takes on the primary financial responsibilities that come with raising a child.

Child support payments help the custodial parent pay for the day to day necessities like food, clothing, and shelter. But, as mentioned, they can also cover healthcare, education costs, and other large costs.

In a shared custody arrangement, it’s assumed that both parents share financial responsibility equally. Because the child spends almost equal time with both parents, each parent has to provide the necessities of life. This is why so many divorced parents believe that a shared custody arrangement doesn’t involve child support payments.

This is, however, not the case. In many cases, but not in all, shared custody still involves child support obligations.

You’re entitled to request child support if you feel it’s needed. In other cases, the court may order child support.

This might be the case in situations where there is a disparity in income. The courts recognize that it’s unfair to ask a parent who earns less than the other to share the burdens of financial responsibility equally. This could mean that, while in the care of the lesser-earning parent, the child isn’t enjoying the same quality of life they did prior to divorce – which is the entire intention behind custody and child support.

Factors for Calculating Child Support

While the laws will vary depending on what state you’re in, most cases of shared custody child support rest on two important factors. 

First, the court will consider financial resources. They’ll look at the finances of each parent, including the income they earn as well as any other asses. Second, the court will consider the amount of time that each parent spends with the child.

Let’s look at both of these factors in more detail.

Income Shares and Percentage of Income 

Most states use either an income shares model or a percentage of income model in determining child support obligations. Income Shares Model

In this model, the courts determine the cost of raising the child/children. They’ll calculate how much the parents would spend on the child/children if they were still together. These costs include everyday things like food, shelter, and clothing. 

But the courts also consider additional expenses. Additional expenses may include items like childcare, private education tuition costs, or extraordinary medical expenses.

Then, they divide that cost between both parents. They’ll factor in things like income as well as the custody arrangement.

When determining a parent’s income, the courts consider more than just income earned at a job. Of course, it includes wages, but it also includes any self-employed income, investment income, unemployment earnings, and even spousal support.  Percentage of Income

In this model, the courts use a percentage rate of a parent’s monthly earnings. Some states will have a flat rate that’s applied to all income levels, while others will vary the percentage rates according to how much income is made.

Parenting time

Income isn’t the only consideration when determining child support obligations. Another important factor in most states is parenting time.

To determine parenting time, many state courts look at the number of overnight stays the child has with each parent. Alternatively, some state courts may look at equivalent care.

Equivalent care excludes overnight stays from calculations. Instead, it refers to the time a child spends with one parent while still incurring expenses. If these times incur expenses equal to what the other parent pays during an overnight, it might be considered in child support figures.

All of these calculations can get rather complicated. Check the state rules where your divorce is being processed to help you determine what models are used there. Many court websites also have parenting time calculators to help you arrive at a relatively accurate figure.

Parent Income

Of course, the courts don’t expect that a parent who makes significantly less than the other should be equally responsible for child care financials. When there’s a difference in the income of both parents, the courts almost always take this into consideration for calculating child support. Again, this is in order to ensure that the child or children involved in the divorce enjoy the same standard of living as they would if their parents were still married.

It’s uncommon, but there are cases of shared custody arrangements where both parents share equal parenting time and have almost the same incomes.

In amicable divorces where parents can come to an agreement that no child support needs to be paid, then the courts might accept that agreement. But even if an agreement is made between the parents, the court can overturn that if it’s not seen to be in the best interest of the child or children.


Change happens. It’s always possible that one parents income changes over time. And if that change is a drop in income due to a demotion or losing a job, it might be possible to change the child support arrangement put in place when the divorce first occurred.

If such a change should occur, you should check whether you can petition the court for a modification. Courts may grant either temporary or permanent modification to the paying parent in these cases. Changes in custody arrangements may also warrant a change in child support payments.


In some but not all states, judges are allowed to deviate from standard rules regarding custody and child support. In some states, that means that the court can waive child support formulas in cases where shared custody has been arranged between the parents. 

However, that’s not guaranteed. The courts are always acting on behalf of the child’s best interests. If they determine that it’s in their best interest to have a child support arrangement, they have the right to enforce that.

Make Divorce Easier

Divorce can be difficult for everybody involved. Through it all, your primary concern should be the health and well-being of the children involved. In the eyes of the law, they’re the most important component of deciding custody and child support arrangements, and every decision made is made with their best interest in mind.

In the best-case scenarios, parents can maintain an amicable relationship throughout their divorce and while making custody arrangements. But even in situations where parents split time and financial responsibility for their children, shared custody child support arrangements have to be discussed. Doing so takes consideration of parenting time as well as the income and assets of both parents.

After these sorts of arrangements have been decided in court, the real work starts. But you don’t have to go it alone – let us help you make divorce easier. Get started with 2houses here.