A Divorced Parent’s Guide to the 2-2-5-5 Schedule

Divorced Parent's Guide to the 2-2-5-5 Schedule

Finalizing your divorce can take a looooong time.

Did you know Californians are legally required to wait 6 months + 1 day after they file for divorce before it can even go to court? Looks like West Coast judges got tired of impulsive celebrities changing their minds.

The already grueling divorce process takes even longer for couples with children together.

No matter where you live, deciding on a parenting plan before going to court saves you weeks of headache and thousands of dollars. So while you wait a few more weeks for you ex’s lawyer to call your lawyer back, it may benefit you to start researching the 2-2-5-5 schedule for physical custody.

In this post, we’re breaking down everything you need to know about this popular custody arrangement. While it definitely will not work for everyone, there’s a reason this custody schedule is so well known.

Keeping reading to learn more about 2-2-5-5 parenting.

But first, let’s review the basics:

What is a Parenting Plan?

A parenting plan is a court order outlining the terms of child custody between two divorced parents. Other words for parenting plan are “custody schedule” or “visitation plan.”

Your parenting plan will cover things like

  • legal custody
  • physical custody
  • visitation rights
  • alimony and shared expenses
  • family members approved for childcare

All of these decisions should be made in the best interests of the child, not just the parents’ convenience. Parents should consider how best to emotionally support their children while apart, as well as nailing down practical aspects of custody.

It’s common for parents to create several temporary parenting plans during the divorce process. However, a clearly defined parenting plan is one of the most essential parts of a finalized divorce. Don’t be afraid to take your time.

Today, we’ll dive into just one small aspect of an overall parenting plan.


Making Your Custody Schedule

Parenting plans come in as many shapes and sizes as the families who make them. There is no ultimate right or wrong custody schedule—as long as the wellbeing of the children is priority number one.

The right custody schedule is one in which everyone is safe and feels at peace with the arrangement. In some cases, it’s best for one parent to have sole physical custody of the children. The other parent may be allowed scheduled visitation rights.

But in other cases, children want to see both of their parents regularly. In shared parenting, a divorce attorney may suggest a number of different custody schedules to help you split time with your children.

You may have heard of children who spend the school year with their mother and summer vacations with their dad. Or, another popular arrangement is one week on, one week off; one week with mom, next week with dad.

But what do you do if both parents want to be as hands-on as possible? What if the children are very small and still need as much time with both parents as they can get?

Introducing the 2-2-5-5 custody schedule.

What is a 2-2-5-5 Schedule?

Here’s an easy way to remember the 2-2-5-5 schedule:

One parent gets Mondays and Tuesdays every week. The other parent gets Wednesdays and Thursdays every week.

Each parent gets to spend Friday, Saturday, and Sunday with the children every other week.

In other words, some weeks you’ll see your children for two weekdays. Other weeks you’ll get them for five straight days. That span of five days will always include the same weekday you always see them, plus the weekend.

That’s two consistent weekdays and alternating custody for the weekends. (So really, it’s a 2-5-5-2 schedule most of the time.)


I know what you’re thinking…

How on *earth* am I supposed to keep track of all those swaps?

Most parents plan custody exchanges around mealtimes or the end of the school day. They also make changing houses as easy as possible for their kids in a few ways:

  1. keeping the kids’ rooms in each house as consistent as possible between visits
  2. having clothes and toys at each house so kids only pack what they need for school / the day
  3. keeping commutes simple and sticking to consistent meal times

Still confused?

Let’s look at some real examples.

How 2-2-5-5 Works (in Examples)

For this 50/50 custody schedule to work, both parents need to live near each other. If the kids are in school, both parents need to live in that school district. Both parents are going to need to enjoy participating in mundane weekday tasks as well as fun weekend adventures.

Parent A

Parent A is has a flexible work schedule. They live 20 minutes from the daycare their two toddlers attend.

Parent A’s custody schedule looks like this:

Monday – Pick up kids from ex’s house at 8am to drive to daycare. Make sure they have everything they will need for a few days at my house. I pick up kids from daycare and bring them home with me.

Tuesday – I have Tuesdays off and spend the day with the kids. My ex will pick up the kids from my house in the morning. Next week, I know I’m getting 5 days of custody from Friday through Tuesday.

Wednesday– N/A

Thursday – N/A

Friday – N/A

Saturday – N/A

Sunday – N/A

Parent B

Parent B does not have a flexible work schedule and work Monday through Friday. Their house is 10 minutes away from daycare. 

Parent B’s custody schedule for the same week looks like this:

Monday – Make breakfast for the toddlers and help them pack before my ex arrives to take them to daycare. My ex and I confirm that I will be spending Wednesday through Sunday with them this week.

Tuesday – N/A

Wednesday– I pick up kids from ex’s house to take to daycare today. I always take them to daycare every Wednesday and Thursday. Kids come back from daycare with me and stay at my house.

Thursday – Take kids to and from daycare, stay after and talk to their teacher.

Friday – Dinner at my mom’s house with the children after daycare.

Saturday – This weekend, I’m taking the kids to the zoo.

Sunday – Today we clean up and prepare for the week. I get the kids excited to spend 5 whole days with Parent A. I remind them we’ll be back together on Wednesday morning. 

Pros of the 2-2-5-5 Custody Schedule

Assuming you can make it work, there are so many good things to say about this parenting schedule:

The children get to see both parents every single week.

With frequent custody exchanges, it’s easier for children to still feel like they’re part of both parents’ lives. This can help relieve a child’s anxiety about being abandoned by one or more parents during a divorce.

Both parents get to be fully involved with their child’s progress at school.

This custody schedule is fantastic for parents who want to be there for all the little moments. In the 2-2-5-5 schedule, each parent will always get to participate in the weekday routines at least two days a week. But they don’t have to miss out on weekends either.

We won’t sugar coat it for you though.

There are quite a few challenges with this custody schedule…


If you can’t stay organized, it won’t work.

Out of all the possible custody schedules, 2-2-5-5 definitely has the most moving parts. Although the rotating schedule may be easy enough to memorize, the whole family must be excellent at communicating. One extra appointment, one missed custody exchange appointment, and the whole week could get thrown off.

Location, location, location!

In order for this to work, both parents must live close to each other and close to the schools their children attend. It would be next to impossible to keep this type of schedule if one parent travels often for work, or if one moves out of town.

The 2-2-5-5 Schedule is Best For…

  • parents who live very close to each other
  • parents who can handle frequent contact and face to face exchanges with each other
  • parents who want to be involved in both schoolwork and weekend activities with their kids
  • parents with flexible or alternative work schedules
  • very young children (infants or toddlers) who still need lots of time with each parent and are not yet in school

There’s a reason this is such a popular custody schedule in so many parenting plans. If you can make this type of arrangement work, we highly suggest you try.

This Custody Schedule Will Not Work For

  • parents who have an inconvenient commute between houses
  • parents who do not do well contacting each other many times a week
  • parents and children with busy schedules who have a hard time keeping track of frequent exchanges
  • older children who need housing stability to do well in school
  • children with lots of extracurricular commitments or medical needs that may interfere with exchange times

If your children are already teenagers getting involved with teams at school, it may be best to look at other custody options. Ask them how they would feel about a 2-2-5-5 schedule and see what they say. As much as both parents may want to stay involved, it all comes down to the child’s best interest.

Also, if you honestly don’t believe you’ll be able to keep track of this type of schedule, don’t! Divorce is already one of life’s most stress-inducing events. As much as your children may want to see both you and your ex, they’ll be more excited about your co-parenting when it’s less stressful for everyone.

Before we wrap this up, there’s something else you should know…

Outliers to Consider

Let’s assume you and your former partner talk with your kids and agree on a 2-2-5-5 schedule.


Before you carve that schedule into stone, there are a few important factors to keep in mind.

Your Kids Might Get Tired of it Before You Do

Remember, this is a great option for infants and toddlers. But, as your kids grow older, they’re likely to grow more attached to their personal space. Having to pack all their gear and assignments between houses may become more trouble than it’s worth.

First Right of Refusal

Don’t become dependent on frequent custody exchanges for childcare. If your custody agreement includes first right of refusal, you need to be prepared to watch over your children for much longer than two or 5 days.

First right of refusal means you are the first person your ex-partner asks to watch the kids in the event they need to hire a babysitter. This goes for plans made in advance and last-minute emergencies.

Even if the schedule you agree on is supposed to be 2-2-5-5, there may be many weeks this isn’t the case. Stay flexible.

Remember You Got This

Coparenting after divorce can get messy and emotional, fast. But it doesn’t have to. Choose the right parenting plan for your family and get ready to roll with the punches.

The 2-2-5-5 schedule for shared custody is an excellent choice for some divorced families. It works especially well if the children are very young and both parents live close.

You may need to adapt the schedule to look more like 5-2-2-5. Or, simply think of it as each parent always getting the same two weekdays + alternating weekends.

A 2-2-5-5 parenting schedule might not work if your children need lots of stability. Older children are more likely to get upset having to pack and move houses this often.

If you do decide to try out this parenting schedule, get ready for lots of exchanges each week. Check out our post on how to handle custody exchange day smoothly.

Creating a 50/50 Custody Schedule That Works

50/50 Custody Schedule

Did you know that, according to The Daily Campus, 39% of marriages in the US end in divorce? Considering how common divorce is, it’s clearly the right choice for many people. That being said, divorce can be a little more complicated when children are involved.

If you’re in the middle of divorce proceedings, then you’re probably looking into custody solutions.

For example, the 3-3-4-4 or 50/50 custody schedule. This way, you and your ex-partner can do what’s best for you both and your children.

Divorce can be a challenging time. It’s best to do what you can to make it easier for your children.

But how do you find a custody schedule that’s best for your family? Not knowing what solution is best for you makes this time even more challenging and stressful.

Fortunately, there are several ways you can use the 50/50 custody schedule. In this article, we’ll review the different types of 50/50 custody you can use.

This way, you and your partner will be happy with your joint custody agreement and your children will be too. Finally, you can move on and move forward, starting your new lives. Read on to learn more.

Factors to Consider With a 50/50 Custody Schedule

Before we go into the different 50/50 joint custody schedule examples, it’s important to review factors to consider. This is because, depending on you and your ex-partner, different join custody solutions will work best. The factors to consider include:

  • Distance
  • Communication
  • Work schedules
  • Activity and school schedules

In terms of distance, this custody schedule is best if you and your ex-partner live close to each other. This is because a 50/50 schedule requires frequent exchanges. If you live in the same neighborhood or blocks away, it can work easily.

However, if you and your ex-partner live far away from each other, this solution could easily become complicated. Imagine having to rush across town to drop off your kid. Or having to drive to another state every weekend.

As you can see, a 50/50 schedule is best if you and your ex-partner live close to each other. If you’re still working out the schedule, it may be worth speaking to your partner about this.

You could find a solution that works. For example, renting a room near the main house.


With this child custody schedule, communication is key. Because you will be seeing each other frequently, you need to prioritize getting along well with your ex-partner. The last thing you want is for your children to see more conflict.

If you and your partner have trouble communicating, it’s worth speaking with a professional. This way, if you use the 50/50 custody schedule, you’ll have communication ground rules to follow.

Additionally, you need to be able to communicate in case there are any issues that require patience. When meeting up with your ex-partner, many problems can arise that are out of their control.

For example, meetings running late or unexpected traffic jams. If you think communication might be an issue with these situations, you have two options.

First, you can choose not to go with a 50/50 child custody schedule. Second, if you really want this schedule because it’s best for the kids, use one that has fewer exchanges. (We’ll review the different options later in this article.)

Work Schedules

You will also want to think about your work schedule. Are you often at work late? Does your ex-partner work on the weekends? This will have an impact on your 50/50 schedule. Having a shared calendar can help you decide what works best for you both.

Activity and School Schedules

Finally, there are your children’s activity and school schedules to consider. If they have a long spring break, this might impact the schedule. If one of your children finishes school before the other, this could mean exchanges might be best during the weekend.

You’ll also want to consider your children’s extra-curricular activities. You don’t want your 50/50 custody schedule to interrupt the activities they look forward to throughout the week.

To avoid this, you can get creative and find a solution out of the following examples. This way, the whole family will be happy with the new schedule.

It can also help to speak with your children. If they’re younger, they might not be able to get involved. However, pre-teens and teens might appreciate you reaching out about these arrangements.

Of course, keep in mind that this could be emotional for them—so ensure you are comforting and open when you speak with them.

Example 1: Alternating Weeks

The simplest 50/50 custody schedule is the alternating week’s schedule. With this schedule, your children spend one week with you and then one week with your ex-partner. Parenting exchanges in this schedule are minimal, occurring only once a week.

Even though there are fewer exchanges, you’ll both spend a lot of time with your children.

A full week will give your children the time they want to spend with you. You’ll be able to have dinner together, share their activities, and help them with their homework.

This can free up weekends for each parent if the exchange is during the workweek or on Sunday evenings. If the exchange occurs during the weekend, then each parent can have a weekend day with the kids.

Keep in mind, however, that this schedule is best for older kids. They’ll appreciate the stability that gives them time to focus on their studies and activities. They’ll also be able to manage not seeing a parent for a whole week.

Younger children, on the other hand, might not want to wait so long.

Example 2: Alternating Weeks With Overnight

The alternating weeks with an overnight schedule is almost the same as the alternating week’s schedule. The only difference is that, in the middle of the week, the kids get to see their other parent. It might look something like this over one month:

  • Week 1: Kids see parent A, with a visit from parent B
  • Week 2: Kids see parent B, with a visit from parent A
  • Week 3: Kids see parent A, with a visit from parent B
  • Week 4: Kids see parent B, with a visit from parent A

This works if you want a simple schedule, but don’t want to be away from your children too long. However, it may be stressful for your children. It can be difficult to switch up where they’re sleeping once a week.

For this reason, this joint custody schedule also works better with older children. They might find it annoying, but they’ll understand. A younger child, on the other hand, might not understand.

This said, if you have teens, they may feel more heard if you ask them what they think.

They might say no to the schedule. They might also let you know what nights work best for them. Either way, being involved will help them during this transition.

Note that if you live a bit far from your ex-partner, an overnight once a week could be tricky. However, doing it over the weekend could be a good solution.

Example 3: 2-2-3 Schedule

Another 50/50 custody schedule is the 2-2-3 schedule. It works like this. Children stay with parent A for 2 nights, then parent B for 2 nights, then parent A for 3 nights. Then, you switch. They stay with parent B for 2 nights, then parent A for 2 nights, then parent B for 3 nights.

If you have younger children, this can be a good custody schedule. This is because your children won’t have to go as long without seeing you.

However, there are some issues with this schedule. For one thing, there are more meetings you and your ex-partner will have. Conflict could easily arise.

For this reason, if you choose this schedule, you should work with your partner to avoid conflict. Even though this can be challenging, it’s worth putting in the work.

If this schedule makes your children happier, then it helps to make these meetings less antagonistic. Additionally, it can improve your communication with your partner overall to avoid conflict.

Another issue with this schedule is that the days you and your partner have your children over alternate every week. If you have a busy schedule yourself, this can cause some issues.

With a schedule like this, it helps to have a flexible schedule yourself. For example, instead of doing yoga only on Mondays, you can commit to doing it once a week. Planning your schedule months in advance can also help.

This way, you won’t be blindsided by suddenly having to pick up the kids at school.

Example 4: 3-3-4-4 Schedule

When you’re using the 3-3-4-4  schedule, your children will have a bit more stability than with the alternating week’s schedule. This is because they will be seeing both of their parents more regularly. It’s also a bit easier schedule-wise for the parents.

For example, if the schedule starts on a Sunday, you’d have the kids Sunday through Tuesday.

Then, your partner would have them Wednesday through Friday. The only day when you would meet to exchange the children would be Saturday.

With this schedule, you would be able to have more movie nights, make time for exercise, and focus on your work schedule.

This is helpful not only for you but also for your children. Because both you and your ex-partner will be a little more organized, it’s less likely that there will be too much conflict.

You’ll also be less stressed and more productive with your time, which your children will notice.

Finally, it will also be easier for you to keep track of your children’s activities. This is because your schedule will be more finalized. You’ll be less likely to forget to pick them up from soccer practice.

If you have teens, remember to avoid having the exchange fall on a Friday or Saturday if possible. This may be easier for you or your ex-partner. However, it may be annoying for your teens.

They need some consistency in their social life, too. So speak with them before implementing this schedule.

Example 5: 2-2-5-5 Schedule

The 2-2-5-5 schedule is beneficial for parents in the same way the 3-3-4-4 schedule is. You and your ex-partner will be able to have more consistency every week. For example, let’s say you start the schedule on a Sunday.

In this case, the only alternating days are Saturday and Thursday. Every other day will stay the same, making it easier for your to plan your life. (As well as your children’s activities.)

This can also help your children have a better sense of consistency.

However, keep in mind that 5 days without seeing one parent might be a bit intense for younger children. Keep in mind that with teens, they might not want their alternating day to fall on a Friday or Saturday.

To be sure that your teens are happy with the arrangement, speak with them about what days might work best.

Need More Information?

Now that you know about how to create a 50/50 custody schedule that works, you might need additional information. Perhaps you want to learn about other types of custody schedules where one child is with one parent more.

Or perhaps you want communication advice for recently divorced ex-couples. Whatever information you need, 2Houses can help you.

They can help you communicate, create a co-parenting calendar, and more. To register with 2Houses, find out more now.

Top DIY Gift Ideas for Mother’s Day

Top DIY Gift Ideas for Mother's Day

With May 9th creeping closer and closer, you might be turning your attention to Mother’s Day. Every year, across the United States, families take this opportunity to give thanks to their moms.

Coming from a separated family doesn’t mean you have to ignore this occasion. In fact, helping your kids make something special for your ex-partner can be a really lovely way of showing your appreciation for them.

So what should you get them? Each year, Americans collectively spend $25 billion on Mother’s Day gifts! But showing that you care doesn’t have to cost the earth. 

In fact, making something from scratch is a great way to give moms something unique to cherish. Not sure what to make! Then read on to find out my top DIY gift ideas for Mother’s Day!

Bake-at-Home Ceramics

You can find brilliant, funny, or adorable Mother’s Day mugs everywhere at this time of year. Slogans like “World’s Best Mom” are easy to get your hands on. 

However, painting a mug at home can make it extra special. You can easily order ready-to-paint ceramics and paints online. Then all you need to do is sit down with your kids and get painting. 

This is a great option for all ages. If your kids are older you can help them create specific designs. Or for younger kids why not try hand printing or finger painting more “abstract” designs?

Once you’ve finished painting, all you need to do is bake your mugs for about twenty minutes and you’re good to go! This is also a great activity to keep your kids entertained so everyone’s a winner.

Paint Your Own Flower Pots

Creating your own flower pot is a great idea for easy handmade gifts for mom. Again, this is something your kids can have creative control of. And it gives their mom something to cherish and display. 

Having plants around the home also offers serious physical and psychological benefits. So your ex will be getting a two-in-one gift.

For some extra fun, why not take your kids shopping to find a plant they think their mom will like? That way you can have fun while creating meaningful gifts for mom.

Create a Trophy Bouquet

Showing your appreciation for your kids’ mom is a great way to foster a positive co-parenting relationship. And what says appreciation and success more than a trophy? 

This is a fun way to give Mother’s Day flowers a new twist! Simply head online or pop into a local vintage store to find an old trophy. Then you can use this as a vase to present their flowers in. 

This is at the simpler end of homemade Mother’s Day gift ideas, but it will show you’ve put some time and effort into planning things.

Make a Recipe Box

If your children’s mom enjoys cooking, this makes a great DIY gift for Mother’s Day. Recipe boxes are surprisingly easy to make as well. 

All you will need is: 

  • A wooden box with a lifting lid
  • Some nice colored card
  • A removable wallpaper sample
  • Scissors or a craft knife
  • Recipe cards

To decorate the box, you simply need to measure the length of wallpaper that will wrap around it. This should fit snuggly to the box and the design can be your kid’s choice! 

Once you have stuck the wallpaper onto the box, you can personalize it using stickers or 3D letters. Then use the colored card to create recipe sections inside the box (such as ‘Meat’, ‘Fish’, and ‘Desserts’.) 

You can use pre-made recipe cards or create your own design! Just make sure to put plenty of spare cards inside the box so she’s got something to write on. 

Design a Mini Herb Garden 

Herb gardens make amazing DIY gifts for mom, are simple to make, and look really impressive.

All you need are a selection of small, potted herbs and a good quality crate. If your kids want to, they can also decorate and personalize the crate. Or you can help them make little signs for each herb.

For a slick finish, make sure that each plant is in a matching pot that works well with the crate. This will tie everything together. Your DIY herb garden will look as fabulous as anything you’d find in a store!

Put Together a Pampering Kit

Taking care of yourself as a parent is really important and having the tools to kick back and relax can really help! Putting together a pampering kit is super simple but can look amazing if you do it right. 

It’s worth taking the time to put together things your kid’s mom will like. This could include: 

  • Her favorite scented candle 
  • Bath salts or bath bombs 
  • Moisturizer
  • A face mask 
  • Bubble bath 
  • Some sweet treats 
  • Nail varnish
  • Body scrub 

To present it well, you’ll need a nice box and some tissue or shredded paper. You can even finish it with a ribbon and put little labels for each product. This is great if your kids are a little older as they can put their personal touch on the design.

Make Your Own Bath Bombs

Speaking of pampering sets, you can make yours extra special (and save some money!) by making your own bath bombs. This task can also double up as a fun, science experiment with your kids.

These are really simple to make. All you will need is: 

  • 1/2 a cup of baking soda
  • 1/4 of dried citric acid
  • 1/4 cup of Epsom salts (you can use regular or go for a scented option)
  • 2 tablespoons of corn starch
  • 15 drops of fragranced essential oils
  • 1 teaspoon of vegetable or olive oil
  • A silicone mold in a shape of your choosing

You can also add two drops of food coloring and dried petals to your bath bombs. This will make them look extra luxurious. 

Start by combining all of your dry ingredients into a bowl and whisking them together. If you’re using dried petals, you should add them at this point.

Then mix the wet ingredients together separately. Whisk these into your dry ingredient bowl a little at a time. Your final mixture should only just hold together. 

Once it’s ready, you can pack your mixture into the molds tightly. These will take at least two hours to set. You’ll know they are ready when you can press on them without the mixture giving way. 

Then all that’s left to do is to carefully remove the molds and package up your bath bombs!

Create a ‘Happy Memories’ Box

A memory or appreciation box is a great activity for a family to do and is something your kids’ mom will love.

This simple yet effective gift involves writing out happy memories or things you love about a person. Then you package these thoughts up for their mom to open when she likes.

You could make little geometric boxes out of card for each memory. Or you could turn them into little scrolls. Then all that’s left to do is find (or decorate) a gorgeous box or jar to put them in! 

Your kids’ mom will have a lovely stash of memories that she can open with your kids or save for a rainy day.

Customize a Tote Bag

Trinkets and treats are lovely Mother’s Day gift ideas but sometimes it’s nice to give something she’ll use every day. Customizing a tote bag is a great way to give her something unique but useful. 

There are loads of different options when it comes to customizing a tote bag. You could dye, ombre, or tie-dye it in her favorite colors. Or you could use prints (or handprints) to create a personalized design.

If slogans are more her thing, why not print her favorite quote on a tote? Or you can make it even more personal by printing a family catchphrase on it.

Just remember, you should use fabric dyes or paints when decorating a tote. These won’t run in the wash so your design will stand the test of time!

Give Her a Monogrammed Keyring

Here’s another great homemade gift that your kids’ mom can take with her and enjoy every day. Monogrammed keyrings also look really impressive and stylish. 

All you will need is: 

  • Some clay (in either black, white, or granite)
  • A rolling pin
  • Some baking parchment 
  • A clay knife or cutter
  • An embossing kit 
  • A toothpick
  • Jump rings and keyrings 

Start with your clay in a small ball and then roll this out on top of your parchment and a chopping board. Then cut out a shape for your keyring using the knife or cutting shapes. Move the excess out of the way and then you’re ready to emboss your clay.

If monograms aren’t her thing, you can create another personal design in the clay instead. Using professional tools can make this easier but you can also do this freehand. Either way, you’ll come away with an entirely unique design.

Once your design is complete, use the toothpick to make a hole near the top of your keyring charm. Then cut a square of parchment around the clay and bake it at 230F for 40 minutes. 

Once your clay has hardened and cooled, all that’s left to do is attach the jump ring and put it on a keyring!

Get Baking

Every year, we eat nearly a ton of cake and there’s a reason why it’s so popular! Sweet treats make the perfect accompaniment for any Mother’s Day gift. This is a little something extra for her to enjoy on the day and she can share it with your kids. 

This may depend a bit on your baking skills. It’s far better to nail a simple recipe than to go for something extravagant and get it wrong. 

When choosing a recipe, try to think of flavors that she likes. Chocolate, lemon drizzle, and vanilla sponge are all popular choices. But if she has any specific favorites, like carrot or coffee cakes, this can make it feel even more personal.

Remember to give your cake plenty of time to bake and cool before you decorate it with your kids. This is the stage where they can really put a design twist on it. You can stick to simple icing or buy edible decorations if you want to really go for it.

Of course, you don’t just have to stick with cake recipes. Cookies, cupcakes, macarons, and tarts are also great sweet treats that are perfect for sharing. So get ready to think outside the box!

Don’t Forget the Cards!

Whichever gift your kids give on Mother’s Day, make sure they come with a card! Homemade cards are a lovely, personal touch compared to most store-bought ones.

To make things easier you can buy plain, ready-to-decorate cards and opt for good-quality materials. Then it’s up to you (and your kids) how to decorate them! 

You could use handprints, glitter, drawings, or collages. To make them extra-special you could also print out photos of your kids with their mom. Whatever design you choose is sure to please. 

Just remember to give your kids’ cards plenty of time to dry before they try writing in them.

Make It a Special Mother’s Day With These DIY Gift Ideas

As you can see, when it comes to DIY gift ideas for Mother’s Day, the world is your oyster!

Whatever you choose to make, set aside time with your kids to get it just right. Their mom will definitely appreciate the support and it’s a great way to create harmony in a separated family.

Need help coordinating your Mother’s Day plans? Our scheduling app can help you coordinate and keep in touch with your co-parent. Sign up for your 14-day free trial today!

Women’s Rights in a Divorce

Women’s Rights in a Divorce

Going through a divorce without a proper strategy is pure gambling – no favorable outcome exists without substantial preparation. Women have to be prepared to protect their rights if they want to avoid unfair property and child custody settlements and months in court trials. But what are the rights of a woman in a divorce? To answer this burning question, we looked at essential aspects of divorce that deserve the most serious consideration.

A wife’s entitlements for alimony

Spousal support (in different states, it’s also called maintenance or alimony) is money that a spouse with more financial resources pays the other during or after divorce. In the old days, pre-1980s, husbands were the primary breadwinners in a family, while their wives were in charge of the household and children. Naturally, women had neither time nor incentives to work and were entirely financially dependent on men.

The fear of being left without financial support was one reason why the divorce rate was relatively low. Back in 1970, there were 3.5 divorces per 1,000 American citizens, according to a CDC.gov report. For comparison, in 1980 this figure rose sharply to 5.2. 

What happened was that women started gaining their financial independence by entering the labor market, thus, changing the economic roles of wives in the family.

How has the procedure for awarding alimony changed since then? For obvious reasons, the husband was obliged to pay financial support to his wife, who had no employment prospects or earned several times less than her husband. 

Alimony was prescribed for a long time, often for life. Today, there is a trend against permanent spousal support in many states, primarily because of the changing economic roles of husbands and wives.

In many modern families, however, women still play the role of a homemaker, which inevitably affects their professional activities. The need to raise children and take care of the family reduces their professional value in the labor market. After divorce, many women experience difficulties finding a job that would allow them to maintain their previous living standards.

Factors influencing spousal maintenance

Fortunately, a career sacrifice for the family’s sake is a significant factor for awarding alimony and determining its amount and type. Each state has some slight differences, but generally, the factors influencing spousal support are as follows:

  • The length of the marriage;
  • The age and health of spouses;
  • Contributions of a requesting spouse as a homemaker and parent, and to the education and career of the other spouse;
  • Income and future earning capacity;
  • The presence of children;
  • Property left to each party after divorce;
  • Any history of domestic violence with documented evidence.

What are the types of spousal support?

  1. Permanent (which does not mean life-long). In some states, it is also called open durational alimony and cannot exceed the length of the marriage. Typically, it lasts half of the time the spouses were married. It terminates if the spouse receiving it remarries or cohabits with another romantic partner or dies. In some states, divorce laws consider retirement as a reason to stop paying spousal support.
  2. Temporary (pendente lite). This type of alimony is when spouses separate and file for divorce. It ends when divorce is final and can be substituted by another type.
  3. Rehabilitative. A spouse can receive this type of alimony until they become self-supporting, e.g., acquire some skills, education, or training to find a job. A woman typically receives rehabilitative alimony if she sacrificed her career to raise the family.
  4. Reimbursement. It is used for marriages that lasted less than five years. This type is meant to compensate the receiving spouse for the time and contributions they made to help the other spouse enhance their careers.
  5. Lump-sum alimony. It is a one-time payment and usually used to compensate a requesting spouse’s share of marital property after divorce.

Women’s rights to child custody

Until 20-25 years ago, a woman would almost automatically get custody of children after divorce. Today, it depends on various factors. The U.S. Family Law courts began to award joint custody a lot more often than in the past. It is widely believed that the participation of both parents in the child’s life has a beneficial effect on their healthy development.

 For this reason, there is a common tendency to split a child’s time 50/50 between the parents.

There are different circumstances that a judge takes into consideration when determining the child’s fate. For example, suppose a father wasn’t involved in his children’s lives and didn’t express any interest in them before the relationship dissolved. In that case, a judge might consider giving sole custody to a mother. 

Other factors, such as family violence, child abuse, or neglect, would prevent a father from seeing his children often or forbid it entirely. An important note is that even if a father does not spend time with kids, he must pay child support.

Child custody determination is a sensitive matter. These days, the courts are not so concerned about why the marriage failed in a divorce petition. It’s a child’s well-being that gets all the attention. Unless a father is unfit to be a parent and would pose a threat to a child’s physical or mental health, a judge would most likely order joint custody. It means that both parents will have equal roles in raising their kids.

Children usually live with one parent, while the other has visitation rights. If a mother receives primary residential custody, a father would have visitation rights. He could take the kids for the weekend, spend more time with them during the holidays or the summer break. 

It all depends on the court order. In amicable cases, the parents draft a joint parenting plan and file it with other divorce papers. This way, they get more control over the divorce outcome.

Women’s property rights in a divorce

All items that spouses bought or acquired during their marriage are called marital property. The most valuable are houses, cars, money in bank accounts, securities, and retirement savings. 

Unless a couple signed a prenuptial agreement with a detailed description of marriage entitlements, the marital property would be divided between the spouses in a way that the court deems fair.

Is a wife entitled to a family house?

The primary task here is to figure out whether the house belongs to separate or marital property. If a woman bought it before the wedding, it’s her individual asset. But if both parties paid the mortgage or contributed to its increase in value, it may be considered marital property. 

“When it comes to the house and other real estate, the two most common choices are selling and dividing the proceeds,” says Jody Bruns, a certified divorce lending professional. “Or one party can do an equity buy out of the other through a refinance of the property or with the division of other assets.”

A judge can order to sell the house and split the money or grant the residence to one spouse. When a woman has child custody, the court most likely allows her to stay there with the children if that’s what she wants.

How much of the husband’s pension will a wife get?

A portion of the pension that a husband earned during the marriage is also considered a joint asset. To get a share of it, which is not always 50%, a wife has to ask the court for it during a divorce process using a qualified domestic relations order. 

A QDRO is issued by the court and only applies to pension accounts included in the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. For instance, a QDRO is used for 401(k) but not for IRAs. The qualified domestic relations order establishes the percentage an alternate payee will get and can sometimes secure child support.

Who will pay off the debts?

Debt division in a divorce is a somewhat controversial point. It often requires the involvement of an experienced divorce lawyer. It depends on who incurred the debt and whose name is on it. If a wife got the debt in her name for her husband to use, she is still responsible for its repair. The same goes for joint credit cards.

During divorce proceedings, the court will consider all financial liabilities and decide how to divide them between the spouses. When the judge issues the order, a person will be responsible only for the assigned debts. In most cases, it is beneficial to resolve this issue before going to court. 

“If you are able to do this,” writes Brette Sember in her book The Complete Credit Repair Kit, “you can divide your debts in a way that both of you can manage, rather than end up with a plan made by a judge who will not have the same insight into your situation.”

What happens to a wedding/engagement ring after divorce?

As was mentioned earlier, only marital property can be divided after divorce. Gifts such as wedding rings fall under this category. An engagement ring is classified as separate property because a wife obtained it before the wedding. 

It is also a conditional gift – a promise to get married. If marriage was concluded, the condition has been met. Thus, a wife has the right to keep her engagement ring after divorce without compensating its value to her husband who gave it.

Final words

Modern divorce laws are less gender-biased than they were a few dozen years ago. Fortunately, women and men are now in the same conditions. Today, the outcome is all about fairness and using a gender-neutral perspective. 

It does not mean, though, that the court system is perfect. So every decision a woman makes should be weighed carefully to help her build a post-divorce world the way she wishes it to be.

6 Tips To Reduce The Stress Of Co-parenting

6 Tips To Reduce The Stress Of Co-parenting

Parenting already is a difficult task, but co-parenting, especially with an ex-partner, may prove to be even more complicated. Adapting to the reality of being a co-parent isn’t always easy and swift. It might take a while to come to terms with it, and you’d occasionally have to make sacrifices.

However, always bear in mind that it’s for the betterment of your child/children. You might have to make some compromises you don’t like.  Being a co-parent comes with a heap load of stress. Luckily, this article will explain six ways on how to deal with stress.

1.   Find a support system to vent your feelings.

The stress and mixed emotions that come with co-parenting can be very draining and infuriating. You will occasionally get mad at the co-parent for not doing things your way or in a way you like.

However, It’s important to understand you can’t be in control of everything. Keeping emotions pent up might lead to harboring ill feelings towards your co-parenting partner.

Thus, a support system to vent your emotions will provide you the soft cushion you need to release all the negativity. That support system could be a trusted friend, a therapist, or even a support group. It will make you feel less alone, and your support system can also serve as a voice of reason or advisor during misunderstandings.

You could also release accumulated stress by treating yourself to some white zinfandel wine. This wine is fantastic, and it contains many ingredients that help the body relax.

2.   Effective communication is vital.

As a co-parent, you always have to be accessible to your co-parenting partner at all times. Communication is the most essential and fundamental part of good parenting. Treat your co-parent as a business partner and be civil with them.

Communicate effectively through a designated medium which you’d both agree on. Talk about everything involving your child, so you and your co-parenting partner can make the best decisions. Never forget they’re your partner in this, so don’t make decisions solely.

3.   Create a schedule or calendar to go by.

Organizing and creating a parenting schedule goes a long way in ensuring both parents get to spend equal time with the child. This helps prevent a dispute over visitations and vacations. Plan, even for the unexpected. The schedules will make your life ten times easier as few circumstances would catch you unprepared.

4.   Don’t view your co-parent as an enemy.

Any bad history or issues you might have with the co-parent should be left behind in the past so as to not affect your child. Don’t do anything spiteful to your ex-partner based on your sentiments alone.

Your children’s state of mind and wellbeing as a whole always come first. So, it would be best to avoid doing things because you want to prove a point to the other parent. Make decisions based on what’s best for your child/children.

Strive to have a healthy relationship with the co-parent. Misunderstandings are bound to happen when two individuals have to decide on the same thing but make sure it’s a peaceful and mature conversation that ensues. Having disputes or quarrels in front of your child/children should be avoided at all costs because there’s a high tendency it will reflect on their behavior.

5.   Leave the kids out of grownup matters.

Keep the kids out of your issues, fights, and decision-making with your co-parent. It doesn’t matter if you’re upset at the co-parent, don’t get the child/children involved. They might be acting unreasonable, but never badmouth or demean them to your child or children. Consider their feelings towards this parent and don’t make a big deal out of minor situations.

6.   Learn to be flexible.

There will be instances where your co-parent might want to switch scheduled parenting days with you due to some unforeseen events. Hence, you should try as much as possible to be flexible. It is essential to understand that not all you plan would follow the order you plan it, and that’s okay.

Above all else, you should put your child’s convenience above yours. Amidst all this planning, it is easy to neglect your child’s feelings altogether.

It would be best if you always had a contingency plan for times when you’re busy. Some of these include dropping your child off at a trusted relative or friend’s place.

Final Thoughts

Co-parenting can sometimes feel like an extra job, but it’s worth the work at the end of the day. Even though you might be busy with your child/children, care for yourself too. Take a time out once in a while to do something for yourself. Go out with friends, get a massage, go dancing – whatever it might be as long as it relieves your stress.

If you don’t relieve your stress and you allow it to accumulate, you would do more harm than good to both you and your child.

Child Abuse Prevention Month – How to Be Your Child’s Best Advocate as a Single Parent

Whether you’re managing being a single parent, or trying to make co-parenting work, it’s important to make your child’s health and wellbeing a priority. If you’re going through a divorce there’s a strong likelihood that they’re already feeling confused and anxious about the changes, so make sure to be there for them however you can. In the case of shared custody or co-parenting, it’s important to watch out for things that may indicate your child is being abused as abuse is all too common in and outside of the home.

Divorced parents are still parents, and parents need to be aware of the threats that face their children. According to dosomething.org, in the last year alone it’s estimated that nearly 1 in 7 children have experienced some form of abuse or neglect in the United States. And, while most children are taught “stranger dangerfrom an early age, a sad reality is that children are much more likely to suffer abuse at the hands of a family member or someone close to the family.

The Types of Abuse

When going through a divorce, there may be a lot of stress and animosity that both you and your spouse feel. It can be hard to find appropriate outlets for those feelings and you may lash out at those around you. Built-up stress and anxiety in the home can in the home can increase the risk for child abuse to occur. The following are the most common forms of child abuse:

  • Emotional abuse: This includes direct verbal assault, berating language, and intentional commentary intended to hurt the child’s feelings of self-worth. Many times choosing to give your child the silent treatment is also a form of emotional abuse. It’s one thing to designate a “time-out” corner for your child to sit in when they do something bad, but an entirely different thing to do it with the intention of hurting your child.
  • Physical abuse: Physical abuse is defined as any abuse that involves physical harm or injury to the child. It’s never okay to raise your hand to a child, even in the name of discipline. There are far better ways to instill good behavior than through the use of any kind of physical abuse.
  • Neglect: Neglect is where the parent is either unable, or unwilling, to provide their child with basic needs such as food, water, and safe supervision and shelter. It’s not always easy to spot this form of abuse and it frequently occurs in homes where there are serious drug and alcohol issues, or where the parents are physically or mentally unable to care for their children.
  • Sexual abuse: Where children are molested or raped. This includes the act of showing children pornographic images or videos.

Institutional Abuse

You are trusting adults with the health and safety of your children when you send your child off to camp, an after school program, or sports practice. Unfortunately, those individuals you’re trusting, aren’t always worthy of it. Abuse suffered outside of the home and in another setting, like a church or school, is known as institutional child abuse.

From a young age, children are taught to trust and respect their superiors without asking questions. Institutional abusers take advantage of children by manipulating them into thinking the abuse is normal, or threatening them into silence. As seen in cases of female athletes who were abused by a doctor or medical personnel, like the female gymnasts and Larry Nassar, victims were taught to believe what their doctor recommended. This includes undergoing procedures or exams that masked the actual abuse that was taking place. 

In instances of abuse by members of a church or religious group, the abuse may take place under the guise that it is an “act of God’s will.” In order to gain the trust of their victim, institutional abusers often single out more vulnerable, quiet children, and they’ll use the process of grooming to earn their trust. Grooming may look like inappropriate compliment-giving and excessive gift-giving. Perpetrators of sexual abuse may also request that the child keeps the abuse a secret, or many times the abuser will manipulate their victim into thinking no one will believe them if they speak out about the abuse.

The dynamics of institutionalized abuse include the actions of the abuser, as well as the actions of the institution where the abuse occurs. For families adapting to a divorce, single parenting or any new family dynamic, it can be difficult to recognize when something else is affecting your child. Historically, institutions where abuse is common have come under fire for mishandling reports of abuse or outright ignoring the accusations. This leaves you, the parent, responsible for knowing what signs of abuse to look out for and responsible for establishing clear communication with your child in order to be proactive about their safety.

Signs of Child Abuse

It is important to understand that not all changes of mood and actions mean that your child is being abused.However, understanding abnormal behavior and establishing open communication regarding your child’s safety with your ex-spouse, will help you maintain a healthy relationship with your child. Common signs of child abuse are listed below:

  • Unexplainable cuts or bruises: If your child is at your place from a week away at your ex-spouse’s and they can’t, or are hesitant to, explain certain injuries, you should be concerned. Depending on how amicable you and your spouse are able to be around each other, keep a mental note of injuries that happen when the child is at one place or another. Maybe it’s just a safety issue and it can be quickly resolved, but if your child is constantly using the same excuse over and over again, it could be something more serious.
  • Jumpy or quick to react: Does your child jump in response to a loud sound, or do they flinch away from your hand as you go to brush a piece of hair away from their face? This is also a sign something may be going on. Even verbal abuse can cause your child to be overly sensitive to loud noises.
  • Hesitancy to return to the other home: When it comes time to send your child back to your ex-spouse’s and they are hesitant to go, you may want to explore that deeper. It may be because your child doesn’t like the process of going back and forth, or they generally like to spend time with you more, but it’s important to develop a good sense of communication, early on, to get ahead of concerns like this.

Signs of Sexual Abuse

  • As we discussed, abuse can unfortunately take many forms. While the above information is necessary to understand when dealing with all forms of abuse, the following signs are important to be on the lookout for in cases of sexual abuse.A lack of  interest in previously enjoyed hobbies/sports/activities
  • Difficulty walking or sitting
  • Having new names for their private parts (not regularly used around you)
  • Unwillingness to undress in front of you
  • Making strong efforts to avoid a specific individual
  • Feelings of anxiety/depression

You are not a bad parent if you don’t immediately recognize that your child has been abused. Perpetrators of abuse hide  in plain sight and make their victims feel intense guilt and shame that prevents them from speaking up. That said, if a victim never comes forward, or is made to feel like they can’t, the internalization of their trauma will likely cause extensive mental health problems down the road. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, two-thirds of people seeking treatment for drug abuse reported being abused or neglected as children. Mental illnesses like depression, anxiety, and PTSD are also very common among trauma survivors, so it’s important to get your child the help they need — early on — if they’ve been abused.

How to Be an Advocate

If you’re still in communication with your ex-spouse and share custody rights, then it’s imperative that you’re both on the same page about the measures you’re taking to look out for your child’s safety and wellbeing.. Keep a mental note of the different people your child sees; coaches, tutors, or common friends, and agree to alert the other individual if something suspicious seems to be going on. The following ways will help you build a better sense relationship with your child, so if something does happen they’ll be more open to telling you or your spouse about it.

  • Communicate with your child: Make sure your child knows they can come to you with questions about their body. Discuss with them how they can set boundaries and which body parts are not-okay for anyone to touch. This also includes educating your child on the proper names for their private parts.
  • Set up a code-word: Many times children don’t feel like they can outright express that they’re uncomfortable for fear of judgement, so give them a code-word they can use when they call you to leave wherever they are.
  • Create a supportive environment: Listen to your child when they speak up about something. No matter what it is, reassure them that talking to you about it was the right thing. If you frequently denounce their feelings, they very well may form a habit of not going to you at all when something upsets them.

Perpetrators of abuse are especially good at manipulation. If your child has been victimized by an abuser, the best thing you can do for your child in the moment is to be there for them and get them the help they need to deal with the trauma. Your first thought may be denial, but it is critically important not to discount the experiences of victims.  Your child has probably already been dealing with self-doubt and blame, so making them question any part of their experience will only be further damaging. There are many online resources like RAINN or American SPCC that serve as outlets for parents and individuals feeling lost as to where to start with reporting the abuse. As a divorced parent it may feel overwhelming to not have the crutch of your ex-spouse but regardless of your personal relationship, your child’s safety is and will always be, paramount.

How to Split and Manage Shared Expenses Between Divorced Parents?

Split and Manage Shared Expenses Between Divorced Parents

Children are expensive. A middle-income family can expect to spend 12,980 dollars every year per child in their household. Expenses increase as a child ages, with families spending 900 dollars more per year on teenagers. 

These costs don’t go away when parents separate. Both must contribute so that all of their child’s needs are met. 

But finding a solution for shared expenses is difficult. Many people don’t want to talk to their ex about anything, let alone money. Others don’t know what to do after having a talk. 

Start with the basics, then work your way to developing a nuanced and comprehensive parenting plan. Here is your guide.

Discuss Shared Expenses With Your Co-Parent 

After a separation, you may not want to talk to your ex. Give yourself time to think things over and get your feelings out of yourself. Rebuild some confidence in yourself and talk to the people you love, including your child. 

But you need to have a conversation with them about finances. As soon as you’re ready, contact your ex and ask to meet with them. You can bring lawyers or friends if you want. 

Both of you should break down all of your child’s expenses, including for emergencies. Then you should decide how each of you will pay toward the expenses.

You don’t have to decide all of this in one meeting. You should have a general understanding of what you will pay, then you should go to a financial advisor. You should then follow up with your co-parent over what to do next. 

Keep in mind that your financial picture may change. Both of you should have an understanding of what you will pay, yet both of you should be flexible. 

You do not have to split things 50-50. If one of you makes more money than the other, that parent can chip in more money. 

If you make such an arrangement, you should not tell your child that. They may think that the parent who pays more loves them more. Do not tell your child what is happening behind the scenes, though you should contact them every day. 

Try to have separate conversations about child custody and other arrangements. Talking about everything over one day can be exhausting and can lead to arguments. You should bear in mind that you can split payments while not splitting custody. 

Write an Agreement 

Once both of you have settled terms, you need to write a formal agreement. Your agreement does not have to be long, but it should be clear. 

Write out what your child’s current expenses are. Then provide thorough details on how each of you will pay toward them. Specify your payment methods and the amounts each of you will pay. 

Touch upon what will happen if one of you cannot make a payment. You should also address what would happen if your child gets into an emergency. Clarify how you will pay for medical expenses and additional support. 

Your discussion of shared expenses can go inside a larger parenting agreement. You can also write a separate document to deal with custody and visitation. 

When you’ve written your agreement out, send copies to your lawyer and financial advisor to review. If one lawyer disagrees with some language, have a conversation about that disagreement. Do not edit the document on your own initiative, as this will cause distrust with your co-parent. 

Deal With Child Support

If you establish a thorough agreement with your co-parent, you do not need to engage in a formal child support process. But if you cannot, you can head to the courts to deal with child support. This is a good option for people who were in an abusive or acrimonious relationship with the other co-parent. 

There are several models you can use to calculate payments. The income shares model divides expenses based on the parents’ combined incomes. If one co-parent earns two-thirds of their combined incomes, then they will pay two-thirds of expenses. 

Child support generally covers necessities like housing and food. Your arrangement may not cover additional expenses like electronics. Try talking with your co-parent about how you will provide for these things. 

Remain In Contact 

You do not have to touch base with your co-parent every day. But you should keep a line of communication open in case either of you needs to adjust a payment. 

If you can’t meet a payment one month, you should notify your co-parent in advance. Tell them how you plan on covering your end of the expenses. Apologize and take action to ensure that that won’t happen again. 

If you or your child gets into an emergency, you should tell your co-parent as soon as possible. Do not let them find out from someone else. Even if they do not have custody, they should know since it impacts their payments and relationship with their child. 

If you are not comfortable talking with your co-parent directly, you can use an intermediary. Consider using a mutual friend instead of a lawyer. Do not use your child to send messages to your co-parent. 

You may want to make edits to your original parenting plan. This is fine.

Talk over what edits you want to make and make sure your ex is happy with them. Then make the edits as soon as possible. If you don’t put the new terms into writing, a court may not accept them. 

Handle School Expenses 

If there is one area you should focus on, it is schooling. Many people think that schooling is an insignificant expense because public schooling is free. But it is more expensive and complicated than it seems. 

While the schooling itself may be free, extracurriculars may not. Athletes are expected to buy their own equipment. Robotics and public speaking tournaments have registration fees. 

Your child will need binders, paper, and pens to write with. As they get older, they will need a laptop and cell phone. 

During the summers, your child may go to summer camp. They may go on a vacation. These activities can cost thousands of dollars, especially if they do them summer after summer. 

If your child is young, you do not need a formalized plan to cover these payments. But you should have one before they enter extracurriculars, especially at the middle school level. 

You should protect your child’s college funds. Specify how each of you will contribute toward them in your parenting agreement. If you are concerned that the money will be misused, you can request a judge to keep your co-parent from accessing the account. 

Remember that tuition is not the only expense for college. You need to cover moving and living expenses, especially if your child goes out of state. Figure out arrangements for those as well. 

How to Save Money

You can save money while co-parenting. Nesting allows the two of you to pool housing money together. 

Most custody models involve the co-parents living in separate houses and the child alternating between them. The co-parent who leaves often buys a duplicate set of belongings for their child so they feel comfortable.  

In nesting, the child stays in one house and the parents swap out. This minimizes disruption for the child and prevents having to buy new belongings for them. 

If money is tight, both co-parents can remain in the house but in separate rooms. There are no moving expenses in this option. This is only good for co-parents who separate on amicable terms. 

Many parents compensate for the disruption by buying their child gifts. Expensive children’s toys may provide momentary relief, but the added expenses will come back to bite you. 

Share experiences with your child rather than things. Take them on a walk in a local park. Invite their friends to come over and play a game with them. 

There is little reason to buy expensive children’s furniture. You can find cheaper options at a thrift store or yard sale. Keep your eye out in your local newspapers for those. 

Both parents should buy a life insurance package for themselves. In case one of you dies, the package will provide payments for your child. 

How to Monitor Payments

You can check your co-parent’s payments through several means. A co-parenting app provides easy access to all documents, including your payment plan. You can get an overview of your financial picture and see if all accounts are balanced. 

You can establish savings accounts or shared lines of credit. You can then check in on the accounts through your bank. 

Do not ask your co-parent when they have paid. Do not tell them that you are monitoring their payments. They may take offense and avoid paying. 

Not paying child support is a crime that can result in criminal penalties. If your co-parent refuses to pay, you should report them to the authorities. 

Center Your Child 

Paying children expenses is frustrating. Talking with your partner about finances may lead to arguments. 

But you should shift your attention to your child. Remain focused on their welfare and take pride in how you are supporting them. 

Do not loop your child in on your finances. If they hear that you are struggling to pay bills, they will become anxious. 

Do not tell your child what the other co-parent’s finances are. Tell them that you two will meet all of their needs without worry. 

Your co-parent may try to take your child’s affection by showering them with toys. Do not do the same thing. 

Have a conversation with your co-parent behind the scenes. Talk to them about how you can accommodate paying for toys and gifts. Try to see if you can both chip in on a gift to present to your child. 

Your child may want to talk to someone after your separation. Pay for them to see a therapist or psychiatrist. Give them all the time they need to build self-esteem and confidence. 

As your child gets older, they may have a paying job. You should not expect your child to contribute to their own expenses. They should save their money for their own life and for things they want to buy. 

Expect to provide for your child after they become a legal adult. Less than one-quarter of young adults are financially independent. You may need to provide support even after they leave home, so make sure you have the resources for this. 

Discuss Terms With a New Partner 

You may have a new partner soon after your separation. Avoid introducing them to your child right away. Try to wait at least a year if you can. 

In the meantime, talk about your parenting arrangements with your partner. It can be hard to balance co-parenting and dating, so make sure your partner knows where you stand. 

Your partner may want to embrace a parenting role with your child. If that’s the case, you can discuss financial obligations with them. 

You should not expect your partner to pay for your child otherwise. They may be okay with paying for a lunch or a toy. But you and your co-parent should cover your child’s main expenses. 

If you have a child with your partner, you need to consider those payments. You are still expected to pay for your first child. Make sure you have enough money to cover everything. 

If your parent has a co-partner who is willing to pay expenses, you can adjust your parenting plan. They may divide your co-partner’s payment between themselves. You should not expect to decrease your own payment. 

The Right Way to Split Shared Expenses

You can split shared expenses without too much hassle. When you’re ready, have a conversation with your ex. Work out a formal parenting plan that lists out everything you need to pay. 

Keep a line of communication with your co-parent. Make edits to your plan as you need to.

Remain focused on your child. Do not tell them information that will worry them. Loop in a new partner if they are willing to assume a parenting role. 

Become a great co-parent with the facts. 2houses offers nuanced guides. Read our guide on successful parenting tips

How to Handle Custody Exchange Day Smoothly

Handle Custody Exchange Day

Around 50% of American children will see their parents divorce during their lifetime. So if you have recently gone through a divorce, your kids are not alone.

This can signal a big adjustment period in family life so it is important to be sensitive to this. Organizing child custody plans as soon as possible will help everyone involved. Nowadays, joint or shared custody is becoming the norm in America.

This involves children spending time with both of their parents on a regular basis, which is great! However, it also means that you have to organize a custody exchange day with your ex.

This can be a challenge for co-parents, especially in the early days of divorce. Thankfully, there are plenty of things you can do to ensure that every custody exchange day runs smoothly. Read on to find out my top tips for a successful custody exchange!

Plan in Advance 

When it comes to custody exchange day, planning in advance is vital. This ensures that everyone involved in the custody exchange knows what’s happening. It also allows you and your ex to plan your time fairly. 

Ideally, try to stick to a regular exchange day and time. Having a schedule will help your kids adjust to the change easily. This means they will know exactly when they are seeing each of their parents, which minimizes confusion for them. 

As well as drawing up a schedule, you should agree on custody exchange locations. It is much easier for everyone involved to pick up and drop your kids off in the same place each time.

If you don’t feel ready to visit your ex’s house or apartment, you might want to discuss meeting in a neutral place. However, it is most important to choose an environment where your kids feel secure. If they do get upset or are finding things hard, they need to be able to express this.

When planning your schedule, you should include details of who will be doing pick-up and drop-off. This will avoid any confusion in the future.

Using a scheduling app can really help to organize custody exchange days. This ensures that everything is written down in one place so you can check it when you need to. You can also use these apps to request changes to the schedule.

Avoid Making Last-Minute Changes

Sometimes you will have to make changes to the schedule. For example, you may have a work commitment or be planning a family holiday. Whatever the reason, try to make these changes in plenty of time. 

Making unnecessary last-minute changes won’t do you any favors with your ex. This is disrespectful to their time and can leave them feeling frustrated. It also means that they have to rearrange their whole schedule. 

If you do have to make a change to the schedule, make sure you word this carefully. Here are some of my top tips for requesting a schedule change: 

  • Get in touch with your ex as soon as you know you need to make a change
  • Acknowledge that you are changing the schedule to show you appreciate their consideration 
  • Offer an alternative plan and be open to their suggestions
  • Accept that you may not be able to reschedule time with your kids if you miss a custody exchange day or weekend

Avoiding last-minute schedule changes is also important for your kids. Having a schedule and sticking to it boosts children’s confidence, development, and sense of security.

Last-minute changes to the custody schedule can be upsetting for them. After all, they want to spend time with you. Remember, your kids need to know that they are your priority.

Be on Time on Custody Exchange Day

Once you have a schedule, you must turn up on time for it. This means arriving at the specified time for picking up and dropping off your kids. 

This shows your ex that you are respecting their time with your kids. It also allows everyone involved to plan their days more easily. For example, if your kids have a playdate scheduled, they might be late if your drop them off later.

Saying goodbye to your kids can be difficult, which is often why people turn up late for custody drop-off. However, it’s important that you recognize that your ex may share these feelings. If they are also missing your kids, it isn’t fair for you to drop them off late. 

If your co-parent is picking the kids up from you, make sure you have them ready to go on time. This will make the handover smoother. It also means you will have time to focus on saying goodbye rather than hunting for spare pajamas!

Of course, being five minutes early or late shouldn’t be a problem. If you are going to be more significantly late, make sure you let your co-parent know. Or if you are running early, you will still have to wait before you pick your kids up.

Have Everything Ready to Go

Preparing for exchanges will make it much easier to be on time. If your child is out for the day or staying overnight they will almost certainly need to take things with them.

This might include: 

  • Changes of clothes
  • A comforter 
  • A water bottle for their day out
  • Their school homework

Making sure you have packed these things up before drop-off or pick-up will make things smoother. Ideally, try to do this the day before the custody exchange to avoid a last-minute rush. 

If you are regularly exchanging custody it’s a good idea to have your kids take the same bag every time. That way you are only checking in one place before your kids leave or when they come back. You can also leave certain items in there for next time.

At the beginning of shared custody, the parent who has moved out of the family home might not have everything they need. For example, you might not immediately have a baby monitor or spare clothes for your kids.

It’s a good idea to get kitted out with everything you need as soon as possible. That way you minimize how much stuff has to go to and fro between the houses.

At pick-up or drop-off, it’s a good idea to do a quick check in your kids’ bags to make sure everything is there. That way if something is missing you can quickly sort the situation out. This is much easier than realizing you don’t have something important when you’re already out and about.

Don’t Have Private Discussions in Front of Your Kids

After a separation, there will be plenty of things that you and your ex need to discuss. From childcare arrangements to financial support, make sure you keep these conversations away from the kids. 

These conversations can risk sparking disagreements that you don’t want to happen in front of your kids. Even if they don’t, they can leave your kids feeling uncomfortable or upset. Often it leaves children feeling torn between two parents, which is the last thing you want. 

Because of this, it is much better to discuss these matters at other times. It is important that you find a time to talk that works for both parents. For example, you don’t want to have the conversation in a rush or while you’re at work. 

If you are finding communication over the phone difficult, it might be easier to speak via email. When doing this, try to keep the conversation simple and focus on the practical elements in play. A mediator can also help these conversations to run smoothly.

Let Your Kids Know What’s Happening

Shared custody can be emotionally or physically overwhelming for kids at the beginning. After all, this is a big period of adjustment. However, there are plenty of things you can do to help support your kids through this period. 

Sticking to a schedule will do them a lot of good. Talking to them about what is happening will also help. 

When doing this, it is a good idea to present a united front as parents. That way your kids won’t feel caught between two households.

Try to keep these lines of communication as open as possible. Inviting your kids to ask your questions will help them talk about things. For example, you can ask how they feel about the new situation or if they have any questions about it. 

These conversations are not always easy and at times your kids may say things that are upsetting. Try not to take these things personally.

They are adjusting to the situation and might express painful opinions at times. On the plus side, sharing these opinions means they still feel like they can confide in you. This is a great reflection on the strength of your relationship with them.

You might also want to buy them a calendar or show them a schedule for their childcare. That way they can check in with it whenever they need it. If you do this, make sure you put any changes on the calendar well in advance to avoid confusion.

Discuss the Holidays in Advance

During a year, most children in the United States only attend school for 180 days. This means that for a lot of the year your children will be on vacation. During this time your custody plans may change. 

It’s important to plan your custody arrangement during the holidays well in advance. This will give you time to plan what you’re going to do with your kids. It also means you can organize practical plans, such as taking time off work. 

The holidays are a great opportunity to spend some quality time with your kids. While it might feel strange adapting to this change after a divorce, there are plenty of great ways to create new holiday traditions with your kids!

Don’t Bring a New Partner to Child Custody Exchanges

There is no saying when the right time is to start a relationship after a separation or divorce. In fact, nearly 80% of divorcees will go on to remarry at some point in their lives.

Most courts recommend that if you do start a new relationship you wait to introduce your partner to your kids. However, there are no laws against this.

That said, it is a good idea to avoid bringing a new partner to custody exchange days. Bringing a new partner may be painful for your ex-partner.

It can also be upsetting to your kids. If they are looking forward to spending time with you, the last thing they want is to immediately have to share you with someone else.

Over time, this may change. Once you are in a long-term relationship, it can be nice for your kids to see your ex and your new partner getting on. This can do wonders for blended families

However, it is important to be sensitive to everyone’s needs. While it is nice for everyone to get on in a blended family, it is important not to force this. After all, short spells of civil exchanges are much healthier than long spells of underlying tension!

Make Plans for Custody Exchange Drop-Off Days

Dropping your kids back off after a day or weekend with them can be very difficult. So it is a good idea to make plans for after you have done this. That way you will have something to occupy you. 

This might involve meeting a friend for coffee, going for a walk, or practicing some self-care. Whatever you do, make sure it is something fairly flexible. That way if plans do change last minute you don’t have loads of rescheduling to do. 

Keep These Tips in Mind for a Smooth Custody Exchange Day!

Joint custody exchange day can be a difficult day for everyone involved. Often emotions will be running high, especially early on. So it is important to be sensitive to everyone’s needs and feelings. 

Fortunately, there are loads of great things you can do to ensure that these days run smoothly.

For more help scheduling your custody exchange days, a co-parenting schedule app can really help. Sign up for a free 14-day trial of 2houses today to see just how much it could help you!

Co-Parenting With No Communication?

Co-Parenting With No Communication

Communication is critical. A 2017 study found that lack of communication was the single leading cause of marital separations. Some couples were unable to resolve their arguments, while others stopped talking entirely. 

Lack of communication does not end when a relationship does. Many parents are co-parenting without remaining in contact with the other co-parent.

This can be for good reason. But at some point, you have to talk to your ex. 

When should you have a conversation, and what should it be about? How can you co-parent while having little to no contact with your ex? 

Answer these questions, and you can become a terrific co-parent. Here is your guide. 

During a Separation 

People go through a wide range of extreme emotions during a separation, even a mutual one. It is often a good idea to avoid talking to your ex. 

Talk to a friend, neighbor, or co-worker about what you are experiencing. Feel free to be emotional. The more you let out, the less you will take back to your home. 

If it will make you feel better, you can leave your home and find a temporary place to live. Try to stay with a friend or relative so you can talk to someone. Make sure you can remain in contact with your child. 

You should avoid communicating with your ex’s family and close friends. They may have strong opinions about you and vice versa. You should engage with them only if you are concerned about the well-being of your ex. 

Give yourself some alone time. Pray, meditate, or go for a walk. Try to be introspective, naming your feelings and finding ways of dealing with them. 

If you want to talk to your ex, be brief. Focus on your child and what both of you can do to provide support for them.

You may not want to talk to your ex. But both of you should break the news that you are separating. You should appear together, telling your child that you love them and will be in their lives. 

Prepare with your ex what you are going to say. Avoid talking about what led to the separation. Focus on assuring your child and leave it at that. 

Communication Advice

It is okay to avoid communicating with your ex for a few months. After a certain point, you should try to reach out to them. 

Ask to meet them in person in a professional setting. If it makes you or them feel comfortable, you can bring another person to the meeting. They can be a mediator or a mutual friend. 

Keep things formal. Approach the interaction like it is a business meeting. Speak with respect and neutrality, without getting emotional. 

Allow for some back-and-forth. Ask questions to the co-parent, and listen to what they have to say. Be prepared to make compromises and negotiate terms with them. 

If the conversation is not going well, do not become frustrated. Practice some quick stress relief techniques like wiggling your toes. 

Try to follow up on your dialogue, preferably in face-to-face interactions. If that’s not possible, schedule a time where you can talk on the phone. Email and text messages are too indirect and informal. 

Under no circumstances should you use your child as an intermediary. If you cannot communicate with your spouse directly, communicate through a friend or your lawyer. 

Working Out Co-Parenting Arrangements

There are several things you should work out with your ex. The first is child custody.

Nearly all couples resolve on joint custody, yet there are several models you can choose from. You can alternate weeks, or you can assign a few days within one week for each parent. You can pursue an option like nesting, where the child stays in one house and the parents alternate out. 

If you do not decide on joint custody, you must discuss visitation. A non-custodial parent should still play a role in their child’s life. You should discuss how the non-custodial parent and their child will interact, including over the phone. 

You also need to talk about finances. Both of you need to decide how you will pay for your child’s schooling, healthcare, and food. You can share bank accounts, or one can pay child support into the other’s bank account. 

Keep your interactions with your co-parent limited to these topics. Put into writing what you have decided, then run your arrangements by your lawyer. 

Write a formalized parenting plan. Include a schedule with specific times and dates for when each co-parent will assume custody. Describe how you will meet your child’s financial means

It is essential that you talk to your co-parent about these arrangements. If you cannot do so face-to-face, do so over the phone with your lawyer’s permission. If you cannot do that, let your lawyer and theirs talk to each other. 

Presenting a United Front

You may decide not to be in communication with your co-parent. This gives you a clean break from your relationship, which can help your healing process. 

But avoiding communications may pose some problems. You should not let your child know that you are not talking to their co-parent. If your child sees that you two are not talking, they may think that you will not talk to them. 

If they ask you a question about their other co-parent, remain as respectful as possible. Tell them that you are sorry that you and the co-parent live in separate houses. Remind them that you love them and care for them. 

Make sure that your style of parenting is consistent with their style. Curfews and means of discipline should be near identical. Both of you should check that your child is completing their homework assignments and doing well in school. 

Keep your child’s schedule as consistent as possible. Both you and your co-parent should make their meals at the same time. This will make the transition process a lot easier for them. 

Both of you should attend important events for your child. You can sit apart from each other, though your child should be able to see both of you at the same time. Make eye contact and cheer them on. 

Establishing Boundaries 

In front of your child, both of you need to work together. Behind the scenes, you should adopt some boundaries with your co-parent. 

Even if you establish some contact with them, you should not turn to your co-parent for relationship advice. Do not ask them or their friends if they are seeing anyone else. 

If you are seeing someone, you should not volunteer that information. Though your co-parent may be okay with your relationship, you may make things awkward with them. You should only talk about another relationship if it impacts your parenting. 

Avoid checking their social media pages. You can unfriend or block them. 

If they work at a place you frequent, try to avoid going to that place. If they see you, you may get into an argument with them. 

In general, try to avoid thinking about your co-parent’s personal or professional life. It is not relevant to your own. Focus on yourself and your child’s needs. 

Long-Distance Parenting

You will have to engage in some long-distance parenting at some point. Your child may want to make a phone call to you. You may be away on business and unable to fulfill your custody obligation. 

For two co-parents who do not want to contact each other, long-distance parenting is essential. There is no need for the two co-parents to meet and exchange the child. The child can remain in one room and interact with their co-parent from a distance. 

There are several long-distance co-parenting tips you can consider. Use software like Zoom that allows your child to see you. A phone call is okay, but a video feed provides a stronger connection. 

You may be away from your child, but you can still have fun. Play games like “Would You Rather” that let you talk with your child about silly topics. 

Create some fun traditions with them. Designate a night of the week as a game night, or find some way both of you can give back to your community.

Do make sure that you can find time to interact with your child in person. Work out a time with your co-parent where you two can do something together. 

Pick-Ups and Drop-Offs

It is possible to pick up and drop off your child without speaking to the other parent. You should notify them about when you are arriving. 

You can remain outside, then your co-parent can let your child out. Bring your child into a car and drive off. 

If you don’t want to go near your co-parent, you can ask someone to bring your child to your house. A close relative like a grandparent is best for this. 

During Emergencies 

In your parenting plan, you and your co-parent should decide how to handle emergencies. You should determine what custody will look like if one of you cannot assume your role. You should also decide how to contact the other co-parent if your child is in an emergency. 

It is important that you contact your co-parent if your child is sick or injured. You do not have to give full details.

You should tell them what is going on and how your child is doing. If your child is in the hospital, you should tell them which hospital. The co-parent should let you know when they are arriving. 

When both of you can visit your child, both of you should visit. Try to visit them at the same time to show united support. If that’s not possible, decide a time when each of you can talk to your child independently.  

Pursuing a New Life

As mentioned previously, you should not talk about any new relationships you are pursuing. But your partner may want to play a role in your child’s parenting. 

You should talk to your co-parent about this. They may feel uncomfortable with your partner disciplining or preparing meals for your child. Your partner can fulfill another role, like picking your child up from school. 

Your partner should stay within some boundaries. They should not insist that your child call them “Mom” or “Dad.” They should not counteract the parenting style of the other co-parent, though they can voice disagreements privately. 

You should also talk to your co-parent about other children. You may have a new child with your partner, or your partner may have children of your own. 

Your conversation does not have to be long. Your co-parent will not play a role in parenting your partner’s children. But they should know that their interactions with their child may change, now that there are other children in your house. 

You should always look for better communication and better parenting skills. You can talk to your co-parent about what you are figuring out.

But if the co-parent is unwilling to interact with you, don’t force interactions. Move on with your life and remain in touch with the ones you love. 

Co-Parenting the Right Way

Co-parenting while having limited communication with your ex is possible. You should refrain from talking to them during the separation. But you do need to formalize co-parenting terms. 

When you talk to them, be professional and calm. Present a united front while keeping boundaries behind the scenes.

Provide some long-distance parenting tools and drop-off protocols so you both can talk to your child. Touch base with them during emergencies and major life decisions, like having a new child.

Live the best life you can with the facts. 2houses is the Internet’s authoritative service for co-parenting. Contact us today. 

Co-Parenting a Conflictual Siblings Relationship: A Complete Guide

conflictual siblings relationship

If you have more than one child, sibling rivalry is almost inevitable. The reasons for sibling rivalry are plentiful. As are the behaviors that arise as a result of a conflictual siblings relationship.

Managing this conflict alongside managing co-parenting challenges can feel impossible. But you’re not alone.

Many single parents deal with sibling rivalry. Many more deal with it alongside another co-parent. You just need the right information and techniques to do so.

Our complete guide will take you through everything you need to know about sibling conflict and how to resolve it as a co-parent.

What Causes Sibling Rivalry?

We’ll start by saying sibling rivalry is common in all types of family units. Whether that family has married parents, divorced parents, or one parent, one constant remains — sibling rivalry.

It is most common in families where children are of the same gender and close in age. In fact, identical twins are believed to struggle the most with sibling rivalry.

All this is to say, the cause of sibling rivalry is not often the parents or family dynamic. Although, there is obviously less sibling rivalry in homes where children feel they are treated equally.

Knowing the cause of sibling rivalry can help you figure out how to address it. The most common factors are as follows:

Birth Order

It’s true the most common sibling rivalries occur when children are closest in age. But birth order also makes a difference.

This is because the birth order of your children has an impact on them as individuals. Studies have shown this to be true many times. This impact will affect their relationship with you and their siblings. 

The characteristics associated with birth orders influence the likeliness of sibling rivalry. For example, firstborn children tend to be perfectionistic and may feel threatened by a new sibling. While second-born children tend to avoid conflict and be more in tune with other people’s emotions.

There’s no guarantee your children will follow these characteristic patterns. But you can see how these behaviors could create more conflict between siblings as personalities clash.

It’s also worth noting your own sibling position in your family impacts how you treat your children. Your experiences growing up as a first, middle, or youngest child will all affect how you treat your children.

For example, you may find it easier to relate to your oldest child if you were also the oldest child. This isn’t a bad trait, but it can cause jealousy. 

Age Difference

We mentioned age difference as a factor above, but it’s worth expanding on. Age difference affects the intensity of the rivalry.

This is because siblings close in age tend to have more access to each other. This increased access means they’re more likely to get into physical fights. While siblings further apart in age tend to spend less time with each other.

The ages of your children will also affect the likelihood of sibling rivalry. At preschool age, children are in a dog-eat-dog developmental phase. This increases the chance of conflicts. 

The good news is as children develop and grow older, conflicts should decrease. School-aged children are in a law-and-order developmental phase. They can recognize and enforce fairness.

High school-aged children have developed conscience. They should also have developed conflict resolution techniques. This means they’re less likely to fight and parents are less likely to need to intervene.


Every child has their unique temperament. From cheeky to laid-back to challenging, we all characterize our children in some way. It’s a totally normal thing for parents to do.

But because of these temperaments, parents may treat their children differently, as may their siblings. More laid-back or easy children will annoy their siblings and parents less, thus decreasing conflict. While more challenging children will do the opposite and increase potential sibling conflict. 


In some families, a child of one sex is preferred. This may only be by one parent, as opposed to both.

Regardless, children who are not the preferred gender will notice. As will the child who is the preferred gender. This unequal treatment is bound to create rivalry and increase conflict between siblings.

Physical Influences

All humans are affected by physical factors, but this is never truer than in childhood. Physical factors like tiredness, hunger, and illness will all affect sibling relationships. Even children who get on well may suddenly transform into siblings who always fight.

Other physical influences include living conditions. A messy or chaotic home will create more stress for children. Even sharing a room may increase how often children interact and may increase fights.

In co-parenting situations, where siblings share a room at one home and not the other, this complicates the issue further. There may be instances of fighting siblings at one home and not at the other. This can make single parents feel like they’re the issue when it often isn’t the case.

Parenting Style

All of the above said, parenting style does affect the likelihood of sibling conflict. Parenting styles tend to range from very aggressive on one end to very lax on the other.

Either style will increase the chance of sibling conflict. Aggressive styles may see that behavior modeled in their children’s treatment of each other. Lax styles may feel lacking in structure or attention and may fight more.

Transitional Times

Big life changes are inevitable. Children learn to cope with these as they develop and through experiencing them firsthand. Whether it’s a new baby, a divorce, or a house move, children react to change.

This reaction may come in the form of issues with siblings intensifying. It’s important to recognize when your child is going through a big change and plan accordingly.

This doesn’t mean cutting them slack altogether. But instead, teaching them how to express and navigate these feelings in a healthier way.

How to Mend a Conflictual Siblings Relationship

To effectively address a conflictual siblings relationship, it’s so important to start with the cause. From here, recognize the behaviors that have arisen as a result of it, to figure out how to address it.

The most common behaviors from a conflicted sibling relationship included:

  • Name-calling
  • Poking
  • Blaming
  • Lying
  • Stealing from each other
  • Bickering
  • Teasing
  • Arguing
  • Tattling
  • Hiding each other’s belongings
  • Breaking each other’s belongings
  • Hitting
  • Throwing things
  • Kicking
  • Biting

This is by no means an exhaustive list. Any parent can tell you that children find creative ways to torment each other!

The silver lining is that some sibling rivalry is beneficial to children’s development. Children learn to deal with power struggles and resolve conflicts. They also learn to negotiate and compromise when needed.

However, that doesn’t make the behavior acceptable to ignore. Some of this behavior is easy to tackle using normal parenting techniques like timeouts or warnings. Whereas more aggressive behavior, or more frequent displays of these behaviors, may be more concerning.

To begin with, manage your expectations. Ideally, you will do this between both parents. Sit down and discuss what realistic relationships your children may have.

For example, it is unrealistic to expect children to get on all the time. But it is not unrealistic that children know how to share with each other. 

Once you figure out a reasonable expectation of behavior, you need to approach it as a team. This means presenting a united front, whatever your own issues, and being consistent. It can also help you know when to intervene.

The easiest way to know how and when to intervene is with a traffic light system.

The Traffic Light System

Knowing when to intervene in children’s squabbles stops them from turning into a full-blown argument. The traffic light system is a simple technique. It’s designed to help you reflect on your children’s behavior and think about what your children need from you.

We’ll use examples to explain each step.

Green Light

Green light behavior would be normal sibling behavior. Things like minor name-calling, copying each other, or bickering would all fall under this light.

This is natural behavior and nothing to worry about. You don’t need to intervene. Only if your children escalate behavior should alarm bells start ringing.

Yellow Light

The same behavior that was fine a moment ago has escalated. The names have become a bit nastier and you can tell there is some upset. The volume has increased and maybe there has even been minor physical content.

This is the first point you should step in, but not to discipline. Hear each child out and acknowledge their feelings. Reflect on their views and encourage them to do the same.

This should resolve the issue as they feel they have been heard. But you can also encourage them to move on and change the topic to something else.

Orange Light

Orange light behavior sits on the borderline between play-fighting and real fighting. It can often be difficult to tell which children are doing. It can also change in a moment, from play-fighting to real fighting. 

Don’t barge in and demand they stop. Ask whether it’s play or real fighting. Make sure to hear both children out.

If it is play-fighting the break may help them reset to calmer behavior. If it’s escalated to a real fight, help them with conflict resolution, as in the step above.

Red Light

Red light behavior is unacceptable behavior that needs immediate, firm intervention. This could include a physical fight or emotional harm.

In these instances, stop your children and separate them physically if needed. If a child is injured, tend to that child first. Review the rules with both children and impose a consequence as needed. 

Consequences could include time out or confiscating an item thrown. But it’s important to make sure consequences are enforced fairly in each circumstance.

The key to making the traffic light system work is figuring out what your children need from you. Ask yourself why a behavior may be occurring and how your children might resolve it. This will help you know when to intervene.

Consistent Co-Parenting

As we said above, the key to managing conflicting siblings as co-parents is to behave with consistency. This means you have established rules, techniques, and consequences in both households.  

This creates structure for children. Some poor sibling rivalry behavior may still occur, but it will decrease with age and time. It also gives you the tools to manage it which can help you feel more confident.

It can help to come up with family rules to refer back to. These can be agreed upon between parents and even displayed in both homes. You can come up with these with the kids, all together as one unit. 

Common rules would include treating each other with respect, no hitting, and no tattling. But figure out what works best for you and your family.

We all know positive reinforcement goes a lot further than negative reinforcement. So it’s important both parents encourage healthy sibling relationships.  

This means being fair and not showing favoritism, as well as treating children as unique individuals. Encourage communication of feelings wherever possible and praise good communication and kindness.

In co-parenting relationships, it’s common for children to play one parent off the other if they feel they can. Regular, private communication between you and your co-parent is so important for this very reason. It stops this behavior in its tracks and lets your child know it won’t work.

Difficult Co-Parenting Relationships

It should go without saying, many co-parenting relationships are less than ideal. While all of the above advice is helpful if your co-parent is cooperative, it’s not the case for everyone.

In these instances, you can still use the same techniques above in your household. Creating harmony, consistency, and structure in your home will help your children achieve their best behavior. It may take much longer due to a lack of consistency with the other parent.

The easiest way to explain this to your children is by being transparent. Explain you know there are different rules, but these are the rules and expectations at your home. 

Keep It Consistent

It’s important to remember that conflictual siblings relationships are normal. They can be resolved by getting to the root of the problem. Then, applying consistent, fair techniques to address unwanted behavior from both co-parents.

You can find more helpful advice for many common co-parenting issues on our blog.