Navigating Mother’s Day and Joint Custody

Mother's day

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

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

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

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

Creating a Joint Custody Parenting Plan

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

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

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

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

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

Stress-Free Holiday Schedule for the Kids 

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

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

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

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

Always Remember the Kids

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

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

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

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

Find Effective Ways To Communicate

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

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

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

Concentrate on Making Memories

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

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

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

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

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

Making Mother’s Day Memories

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

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

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

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

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

It Can Always Be Special

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

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

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

Creating a Successful Parenting Plan

Parenting plan

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

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

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

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

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

Divorce and Kids

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

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

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

Design and Implement a Parenting Plan ASAP

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

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

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

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

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

What Is a Parenting Agreement? 

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

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

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

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

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

Making a Parenting Plan

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

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

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

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

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

Medical and Health Care

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

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

Educational and Extracurricular Activities

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

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

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

Information About Exchanges

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

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

Parenting Guidelines

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

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

Child and Parent Relationships

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

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

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

Childcare Considerations

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

Traveling and Relocating

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

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

Child Support and Financial Information

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

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

Other Considerations

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

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

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

Parenting Plans After Divorce

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

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

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

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

Co-parenting and narcissist

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

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

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

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

1. Always Prioritize the Children Above the Co-Parent

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

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

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

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

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

2. Set Ground Rules for Communication

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

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

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

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

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

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

3. Set Up Call Times with the Children

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

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

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

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

4. Conjure Up a Legal Parenting Outline

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. Remove Your Child from the Middle

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6. Use Counseling to Your Advantage

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

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

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

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

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

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

7. Control What You Can Control

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

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

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

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

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

8. Lead by Example

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

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

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

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

Find the Balance for Co-Parenting with a Narcissist!

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

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

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

What Are the NC Custody Laws for Unmarried Parents?

NC custody law

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

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

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

Mother’s Rights in NC

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

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

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

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

Father’s Rights in NC

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

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

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

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

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

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

Types of Custody

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

  • Sole custody
  • Joint custody
  • Third-party custody

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

Sole Custody

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

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

Joint Custody

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

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

Third-Party Custody

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

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

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

Extenuating Circumstances

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

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

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

Joint Custody and a Child’s Best Interests

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

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

Other factors that could change a joint custody ruling include:

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

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

Types of Custody and Visitation

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

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

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

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

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

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

Joint Custody Pros and Cons

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

The Pros of Joint Custody

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Cons of Joint Custody

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

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

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

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

Healthy Co-Parenting Tips

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

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

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

Setting Clear Boundaries

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

Creating and Adhering to a Predetermined Schedule

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

Understanding and Flexibility

Let’s face it. Life happens.

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

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

Address Potential Schedule Conflicts as Soon as They Arise

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

Give Your Co-Parent First Right fo Refusal

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

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

Saying “Bye-Bye” to Tension

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

NC Custody Laws

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

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

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

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

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

Make Chores More Fun for Your Kids

Kids chores divorced parents

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

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

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

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

Socks Hoops

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

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

Set Up A Little Friendly Competition

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

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

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

Scavenger Hunts

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

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

Sock Mopping

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Parallel parenting

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

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

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

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

The Co-Parenting Approach

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

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

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

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

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

Things to Keep in Mind About Co-Parenting

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

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

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

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

Flexibility and Co-Parenting Over Time

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

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

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

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

When Co-Parenting Hurts Children

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Parallel Parenting Approach

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

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

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

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

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

Guidelines for parallel parenting include:

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

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

Things to Keep in Mind About Parallel Parenting

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

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

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

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

The Benefits of Co-Parenting and Parallel Parenting

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How to Help Younger Children Adjust to Two Homes

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

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

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

Maintain a Sense of Regularity and Structure

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

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

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

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

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

How to Help Older Kids Adjust to Two Homes

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

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

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

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

Allow Teens to Cultivate a Sense of Independence and Autonomy

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

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

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

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

In the Best Interests of Your Children

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

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

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

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

Shared custody

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

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

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

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

What Is Shared Custody?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Legal Versus Physical Custody

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

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

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

What Is Child Support?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shared Custody Child Support

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Factors for Calculating Child Support

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

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

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

Income Shares and Percentage of Income 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Parenting time

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

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

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

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

Parent Income

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

Make Divorce Easier

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

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

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

Co-Parenting During the coronavirus

Coparenting vs coronavirus

The rapid spread of the coronavirus pandemic is upending lives everywhere, but it’s putting a strain on a group that already deals with challenges on a routine basis—divorced parents.

Schools and daycare facilities are closing everywhere, which has parents questioning how to keep their children safe. Some are continuing to work, if they’re able, while others are adjusting to life at home full-time under financial strain

Then there is the stress of co-parenting. Many parents are questioning how to handle their existing custody agreements while practicing social distancing. How do you successfully co-parent with an ex when everyone is supposed to stay home?

It’s complicated, but not impossible. We have to respond quickly while accepting that COVID-19 may require us to be lenient and accept change. 

If you’re navigating co-parenting during the coronavirus, keep reading for a guide on how to work with your co-parent to put relationship issues aside for the health and safety of your children.

Communication is Vital

Our world is in crisis, so communication has never been more critical than it is right now. 

For some co-parents in high-conflict relationships, communication is difficult. It causes stress and anxiety, but it’s time to put those feelings aside and focus on the issues. Your family should put the health of everyone at the top of the priority. 

It’s essential to remain on the same page, so the first thing you should do is agree on how to discuss COVID-19 with your children.

How to Talk to Your Children About COVID-19

Your children have likely already seen news of the coronavirus everywhere. It’s on the front page of newspapers, on every news channel, to leaflets at the supermarket.

It’s hard to tell a child they can’t visit the playground or have playdates with friends in a way that won’t make them worry more than they already are. So how do you explain the pandemic to a child?Stay Positive

Children pick up cues from adults. They will react not only to what you say but how you say it as well. So stay positive, remain calm, and speak in a reassuring tone.Be Available

Both parents should be available to listen and talk. Make time to talk together and reassure your children to come to you if they’re unsure about something. Remain Developmentally Appropriate

Take into account the age of your children when answering questions and providing information. You don’t want to overwhelm them with more information than they can handle. 

Do your best to answer their questions honestly and clearly. Remember that you don’t have to know the answer to everything—what matters is that you’re there if they need you.Avoid Stigmas

Don’t use language that blames others. Viruses can make anyone sick—race and ethnicity don’t matter. 

Don’t assume who may or may not have COVID-19—model good behavior for your children.Limit Screen Time

News of the novel coronavirus is all over the television and online. For this reason, consider reducing the amount of screen time your children get each day. Too much information can cause anxiety and panic. 

This is true for adults, too.Tell the Truth

Do, however, provide your children with accurate information. Talk to them about rumors they may see on the Internet, especially social media platforms.

Let them know not to believe everything they see or hear, and not to spread rumors based on inaccurate information.Practice Good Hygiene

Teach your children how to reduce the spread of germs. 

Practice good handwashing habits. If soap and water aren’t available, teach them how to use hand sanitizer. Remind them to sneeze or cough into their elbow or tissue, and always through the tissue in the trash. 

Tell them to keep a safe distance from others who are sick. And lastly, make sure you’re leading by example and doing each of these things, too.

Simple COVID-19 Facts to Share with Children

As you’re having conversations with your children, try to keep information simple. Remind them that both parents and all health and school officials will do everything they can to keep them safe. 

Both parents should become comfortable with the following facts. These will lead conversations about COVID-19 at home and ensure both parents are using the same messaging.What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 stands for “coronavirus disease 2019.” Coronaviruses aren’t new, but this is a new disease not previously seen in humans. 

Recently, COVID-19 has made many people sick. While most people, children especially, will be okay, some people will suffer more than others. Doctors and health officials are working very hard to keep you healthy.How Do You Stay Safe from COVID0-19?

Always practice healthy habits at home, school, and during playtime. Healthy habits that will help are:

  • Keep the germs out of your body by keeping your hands out of your mouth, nose, and eyes. 
  • Never cough or sneeze onto anyone. Use your elbow or a tissue, then throw the tissue away immediately.
  • Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with hot, soapy water. To make sure you’re washing long enough, sing the song “Happy Birthday” twice.
  • If soap and water aren’t available, ask an adult to help with hand sanitizer. Never put hand sanitizer in your mouth.
  • Keep the things we touch the cleanest. Have an adult help you wipe doorknobs, light switches, and remote controls.
  • If you’re not feeling well, tell someone and stay home. You don’t want other people’s germs, and they don’t want yours either.

What if You Get Sick?

For most people, COVID-19 disease feels like having the flu. You might have a fever, cough, and have a hard time breathing deeply. Most people who have gotten the disease haven’t been seriously sick.

Only a small group of people have had severe problems and have been admitted to the hospital. Most children don’t get very sick, and most adults who do, get better. 

A fever and a cough doesn’t automatically mean you have COVID-19. You can get sick from all kinds of germs. Remember that if you do feel unwell, tell an adult and they will help you.

As a parent, if you think your child could be infected with the new coronavirus, call ahead before arriving at any healthcare facility. 

Co-Parenting Guidelines for the COVID-19 Pandemic

Once you’re on the same page about how to communicate the facts of COVID-19 to your children, it’s time to talk about how the pandemic will or will not affect your co-parenting agreement.

The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts have jointly released a set of guidelines for co-parenting during the COVID-19 pandemic.

These guidelines are meant to provide advice and clarity for how to handle court orders and co-parenting agreements during this trying time.

1. Be Healthy

Be a good model for your children by following all CDC, local, and state guidelines. 

Lead by example by showing your children intensive handwashing, wiping down surfaces and other objects that are frequently touched. Practice social distancing and stay informed to avoid falling victim to the rumor mill.

2. Be Mindful

While you should recognize the severity of the pandemic, you should remain calm and reassure your children that everything will return to normal eventually.

And if you have a good relationship with your co-parent, consider being proactive like Carolina from Italy:

“My ex-husband and I decided to re-organize our children’s custody in longer periods, to avoid going out frequently. In fact, even though we are close, (5 miles apart) we live in different cities and the government suggested not to move to other cities if you don’t have a good reason or necessity.”


3. Be Compliant 

Now is not the time to make up your own rules. Despite the unusual circumstances, you should continue to follow court orders and custody agreements. 

These agreements exist to prevent haggling over details. Most custody agreements, for example, mandate that custody agreements should remain in force as though school is in session, even if they are closed. 

4. Be Creative

While you should do your best to stay compliant, it’s evident that things will change when travel is restricted. Some parents will be working extra hours, while others will lose their jobs. 

Plans will inevitably change, but each parent should encourage closeness with the other. If one parent loses time, get created with shared books, movies, and games. Communicate with platforms such as FaceTime or Skype.

5. Be Transparent

Now is not the time to withhold information from your co-parent. If you suspect that you have been exposed to the virus, provide honest information. Agree on the steps each of you will take to protect your children.

If a child exhibits symptoms of the virus, both parents should be notified at once.

And if you’re worried about exposure, understand that you’re only doing what is best for your children by opting to self-quarantine. Attitude is everything, as you can see in the following testimonial by Amelie from France:

“As far as we’re concerned, we’re on alternate custody. The confinement began while the children were at their father’s. We have 3 children: 8, 11 and 14 years old.

Being on good terms, we had no difficulty in agreeing to leave them with him because they are better off at his place, as it is on a farm in the countryside.

For the moment, I’m going to respect a total confinement of 15 days to know if I’m safe and then we’ll see if I try to go and see them.

In the meantime, we talk quite regularly, but only when the children want to because they have other priorities than me! So that reassures me, it means that they are fine and that they don’t miss me!”


6. Be Generous

If one parent misses out on time, family law judges will expect reasonable accommodations when they can be made. 

These are highly unusual circumstances, and parents who are inflexible during this time may not fare well in later filings. 

7. Be Understanding

This pandemic is causing economic hardship for many parents, for those who are paying child support and parents who receive it. If you’re providing child support, try to offer something even if it can’t be the court-ordered amount.

The receiving parent should do everything to be accomodating under these challenging circumstances. Now is the time to come together and focus on what is best for the children. 

These strange days will leave many children with vivid memories. What children should be left with is the understanding that both parents did everything they could to keep them safe, while keeping them informed. 

How to Manage Parenting Time Revisions

COVID-19 is causing schedule disruptions that may make it difficult or even impossible to stick to your original parenting plan. It’s likely your agreement didn’t come close to accounting for a situation like this.

The best thing to do is look at your current schedules and come to an agreement on something that everyone can live with, if not be thrilled about.

If you’re having a difficult time figuring this out with your co-parent, remember that there is help available. During this stressful time, you may have to reach out to a professional to assist.

Get Modifications in Writing

If you’re agreeing to slightly different terms than what is outlined in your custody agreement, consider getting the changes in writing. If you think your ex might take advantage of this amended parenting plan after the pandemic, this is even more essential.

If you’re concerned, have your mediator or attorney draft a document outlining the amended schedule. Have them include a stipulation that the plan is not setting a precedent and has an end date. If everyone signs it now, it can be filed once the courts reopen. 

This Too Shall Pass

Many things feel out of control right now. It’s essential to remember that this hardship, no matter how long it lasts, will eventually end. 

Eventually, life will return to normal, and we will all go back to work and resume the activities we enjoy. The best thing you can do for your children and your co-parenting relationships is to be understanding and patient. Keeping conflicts to a minimum will help you and your family manage the stress. 

Don’t forget that you’re not alone in dealing with this, and there are resources available to you if you need them.

Being a Stepmom – How Difficult Is It?

Being a Stepmom

Parenting has never been for the faint of heart. It comes with 24/7 worries and requires an endless supply of patience. There are also downright thankless parts of the job. Like dealing with temper tantrums, monitoring screen time, and stepping on Legos barefoot.

Being a stepmom can come with additional baggage, too. After all, we live in a society where the easiest scapegoat has often been stepmom.

Painting stepmoms in less than sympathetic light goes back to some of our oldest stories. Just think Cinderella or Hansel and Gretel, for starters. What would they be without an evil stepmother?

While these stories portray stepmoms in a cruel light, far fewer ones explore the real joys and difficulties of being a stepmother. Let’s take an authentic look at how difficult it is to be a stepmom as well as its hard-earned rewards. 

Motherhood and Bonding

One of the hardest parts of being a stepmom? Playing a challenging game of catch-up. After all, you don’t get the same bonding time with your stepchild that a biological mother does. 

This one even goes for being a stepmom to a toddler. You likely missed out on some of the hardest and most rewarding experiences early on.

Yes, the first few months after you bring home a baby are exhausting, but they also come with critical rewards. Sure, you lose improbable amounts of shuteye. You also spend a serious amount of time bonding with your baby, however. For every one of those long, sleepless nights that you endure, you learn critical things about your baby. From how to read them to what soothes them. You deal with cryfests but you get plenty of hugs and cuddles in return.

You play peek-a-boo while you nurse or bottle-feed your sweet infant. You’re there for everything from baby’s first word to baby’s first steps. Talk about an incredible bonding experience!

Through all of these challenges and joys, nature creates an unbreakable relationship between mother and child. Well, that is, unless you’re a stepmom.

Starting at a Disadvantage

Because stepmoms come into the picture later on, they don’t benefit from these early, intimate moments with their children. As a result, bonding often feels intentional or even forced. 

That’s not to say your stepkids won’t like you. But “like” is something entirely different than the heartfelt bond you establish from infancy with a child.

For stepmoms, parenting doesn’t come from that deep reservoir of love and nurturing that a birth parent draws. Now, that’s not to say you, as a stepmom, don’t love your stepchildren. It is to say, however, that your experiences with them will be different.

In other words, for stepmoms, parenting comes from the head first rather than the heart. As a result, it’s different from the experience mothers so often have with their biological children. This sense of “difference” can lead to lots of second-guessing. 

It can also lead to feelings of shame. After all, aren’t stepmoms supposed to love their step kids the same way they love their biological ones?

Doesn’t any perceived “differences” between how a stepmom treats biological children and stepchildren instantly equate to moral failure? Absolutely not!

That said, our society has both very low expectations for stepmoms and impossibly high standards. 

Playing Catch-Up 

Consider everything you know about your biological child or perhaps a niece or nephew that you’ve been close to since birth. Now think about how long it took you to acquire that knowledge and some of the funny and entertaining stories it involved. 

You’ve got profound memories laid down with your child, niece, or nephew. You’ve also got a profound well of knowledge to draw from when they’re difficult. 

Now imagine trying to describe your child’s needs and wants, preferences, hopes, and dreams in a few minutes to a new teacher or babysitter. It feels weird and oddly difficult, right?

There’s simply too much to say about that darling kiddo. Even if you did manage to relay it all to the new caretaker, you’d still just be scratching the surface. What’s more, no matter what, this teacher or babysitter would be at a distinct disadvantage compared to you.  

That’s the crazy game of catch-up a stepmom has to play. They have to pick up on a child’s entire history at a later date, far removed from the funny anecdotes and precious moments that relayed this information in the first place. They have to make mental notes of favorite foods, allergies, fears, and preferred activities without any real-life milestones to anchor them. The result? The constant, nagging feeling that you’re missing significant pieces of the puzzle. 

The older your stepchildren are when you come into their lives, the more pronounced this game of catch-up. What’s more, kids can develop fierce feelings of loyalty to their parents following divorce, and this can exacerbate the stepchild stepmom relationship.  


Being a stepmom often comes with the challenges of co-parenting. While some stepmothers have exclusive or primary guardianship of their stepchildren, such is not typically the case. Instead, they must navigate the choppy waters of co-parenting.

Countless parenting books tell us that establishing routines are fundamental to a wonderful home life. But if you’re co-parenting, these routines only matter half the time.

After all, when your stepkids aren’t with you, you have little control (or knowledge) of what’s going on. 

No matter how great your relationship is with your stepchildren’s other mom, there’s no way you’ll see eye to eye on everything. You’ll do things differently, and this is something that kids not only pick up on but often exploit. 

While this isn’t a deal-breaker per se, you’ll only have half the time to set and reinforce boundaries. What’s more, you’ll have to remain conscious of the fact that the routine you’re trying to establish may not even exist in the other household. 

Are you sharing parenting responsibilities with another household? Learn more about 50/50 custody arrangements and how to make them work. 

Different Parenting Philosophies

Parenting philosophies can also cause friction. Perhaps you’re more of an attachment style mom while your spouse’s ex is a tiger mom. The bottom line is you’re not going to have the same approach when it comes to parenting. 

Short of a situation that’s dangerous for your step kids, there’s not much you can do about these differences. If you don’t take a more relaxed parenting approach that goes with the flow, the friction of such a situation can prove infuriating.

Many moms feel as if they have to live up to expectations and standards that aren’t their own. Their stepkids may reinforce these feelings by continually comparing their two households.

The feeling that you’re not entirely in control of your life and household can be excruciating. It’s also likely not a feeling that you ever dreamed of having when you were a little girl thinking about a future family. 

Stepparents navigate somewhat messy co-parenting situations at times. It can be hard to accept the fact that you have little control over what your children are learning and doing 50 percent of the time. Fortunately, there are ways to make co-parenting go more smoothly.

The Evil Stepmom Syndrome

Every mother complains about her kids and their behavior from time to time. Whether stories from the diaper trenches or the teenage playbook, moms commiserate to each other. 

When a stepmom complains about a stepchild, however? That’s often considered an unspoken taboo.

Even the most benign statement of critique about a stepchild can put a woman in the “evil stepmother” category. This reality is something that many stepmothers intuitively realize, and so they never have a complaint or say a cross word. 

They also never develop the type of support network that a biological mother does. This fact can make an already tricky situation feel even worse. 

After all, stepmoms have a tendency to second-guess themselves. The last thing they want to do is look mean-spirited or wicked to their friends and family. So, they bottle issues up inside and feel an imperative to keep up appearances. 

Always painting a rosy picture of what is a difficult situation at best comes with long-term consequences. It will leave you feeling isolated, ashamed, and exhausted.

That said, all kids can be frustrating at times, even stepchildren. It’s essential to have somebody trusted that you can talk to and receive advice from when the going gets tough.

Parents and Stepparents

For some stepmoms, they have nobody to whom they can turn. Their spouse can further exacerbate this fact.

For example, your spouse may spoil their children, an unconscious attempt to make up for post-divorce guilt.

Or, your spouse may have deep-seated resentment based on the relationship they had with their stepparent. As a result, your partner may prove just as hypercritical as friends and family when it comes to complaints.  

When you can’t complain to your spouse about something going on with your children, this can lead to an even greater sense of resentment, frustration, and isolation. With no one to turn to or seek advice from, being a stepmom can feel very lonely and confusing.

Finding your place as a stepmom takes time. It also sometimes means keeping negative thoughts to yourself. Finding a trusted confidante outside of the home often proves your best option. Remember, too, that integrating a family requires patience. 

The Joys of Step-Parenting

Of course, step-parenting isn’t all negative by any means. It comes with many small and big rewards. The longer I’m a stepmom, the more convinced I become that celebrating these tiny victories remains key to cultivating a happy home life. 

Past the stereotypes and co-parenting challenges, there’s an abundant wealth of beautiful things associated with having stepchildren. Like suddenly being related to amazing, sweet, beautiful kids.

As your step kids mature, they’ll likely come to appreciate your role as a stepmom, too. 

If you’re bringing together a blended family, it can also be rewarding to watch your children and your spouse’s children come together as siblings over time. Yes, there will be conflicts, but getting along with everyone in a blended family is possible. 

What’s more, depending on your stepkids’ custody situation, you may get the best of both worlds. The chance to parent and get some much-needed downtime as adults. 

This situation is not something that full-time parents get to share in. So, when the stepchildren are at their other house, it’s vital to make time for your spouse and yourself. After all, self-care is critical to maintaining the stamina you need to co-parent.

Having stepchildren also allows you to see different sides of your spouse. You’ll catch breathtaking moments of sweetness and love that you might not otherwise get to see, and these are precious moments to be cherished. 

Stepparenting also allows you to relax as a parent. Because you have to be more flexible about what’s going on in your stepchild’s other home. This flexibility can put parenting struggles you may face with your biological children in perspective. 

Being a Stepmom

Being a stepmom can feel like the fast-track to sainthood (with all of the requisite martyrdom).

Why is stepparenting so tough? For one, because of the crazy stereotypes about stepmoms that have been perpetuated in fairytales, cartoons, and films. In some sense, we’ve all been pre-wired to dislike stepmoms.

Not only is that unfortunate, but it can make a tough situation feel unbearable. Especially when you don’t feel like you have peers or a network of friends to turn to.

Isolation can make the stepmom role much worse, particularly when your spouse is dealing with post-divorce baggage. That said, the stepmom role also comes with amazing perks, such as suddenly being related to awesome kids.

When you set aside unrealistic expectations and take it one day at a time, you’ll find stepparenting to be one of the most blessed roles out there. Keep reading for more advice on living in a blended family

The Importance of the Right of First Refusal Custody Orders

The right of first refusal

Did you know that in 51% of cases, both parents agreed that mom should be the custodial parent? However, where does that leave the other parent? The answer is the right of refusal. 

If you’re unsure what it means, don’t worry, with this guide you can find out! From learning its definition to its pros and cons, the right of first refusal custody can give you just what you want: more time with your child. Yes, that’s correct with the right of first refusal; you can spend an extended amount of time with your kid. 

Now, are you ready to learn how? Here’s an in-depth look at the right of first refusal: 

What Is the Right of First Refusal? 

The right of first refusal or first option for child care is a broad term to describe a child custody provision. It notes that if the custodial parent is unable to be with the child during their allotted time (whether due to school, work, or other engagements) that the other parent is given the option before any other child care options (like daycare, nannies, and babysitters).

The idea is to provide what’s best for the child’s development by placing them in the care of a parent. Since children need to spend as much time as possible with a parent, rather than with a child care provider, this provision is highly regarded. In fact, children who spend long hours with a child care provider are more likely to develop aggressive behavior and poor social skills. Thus, this provision lookouts for the child’s interests and how best to raise him or her.   

Also, it protects your rights as a parent to be with your child. Extended family and even stepparents do not have legal authority over your child, rather you do.

By having the right of the first refusal, you protect your rights to be with your child when the child is not in the custody of the other parent. That way, you can spend time with your child during the divorce process. 

Advantages and Disadvantages

Like anything in life, the right of first refusal has advantages and disadvantages that might not suit each individual couple. Make sure to keep these circumstances in mind when considering fighting for the right of first refusal. 


The right of first refusal can help parents manage custody. Since both parents have around equal time with their child. Neither will feel jealous or threaten by the other.  

Instead, it promotes a healthy co-parenting dynamic where parents can communicate with one another. Parents can discuss parent time exchanges and how best to raise their kid. Effective communication between parents is fundamental since it provides a stable environment for children. 

In fact, effective communication in the home will stay with kids throughout the rest of their lives. It will set an example of how to sharing feelings, thoughts, and expressions. It also teaches kids the meaning of a secure relationship.  

Since parents can enjoy one-on-one time with their kids, the right of refusal allows a unique relationship to be developed. In fact, it allows parents to bond and spend time with their children. A recent study found children are most affected by the quality of parenting time rather than the quantity. 

Therefore, a weekend is not just a weekend; instead, it’s an opportunity to get to know your growing child. You may want to set off on an afternoon adventure or use your imagination to become a superhero. You may even become the designated homeworker helper. Just make sure to be involved in their lives and actively participate in childlike games or activities.  

Thus, the right of refusal, when done properly, can help your child succeed in life. It can also help you develop a special relationship with your child as well as help improve communication with your ex. 


However, the right of first refusal is not for everyone. Since it relies on effective communication, parents who already struggle to communicate might find it challenging to request parenting time. 

How parents communicate requests, however, sometimes determines how successful they are. For example, if a parent simply sends a vague text message that might not be sufficient enough. A parent may want a short phone call where details of the exchange are discussed first. 

At the end of the day, communication is essential in these situations. Parents need to understand what they want, what they need, and ultimately, what is best for their child. 

For the right of first refusal to work properly, parents must trust one another. They should both also understand what’s expected of them in terms of communication and in parenting exchanges.

For instance, is your child allowed to stay up past ten, eat ice cream for breakfast, or not do chores? These are the types of questions that should be discussed with your ex. 

If you two cannot agree, the right of first refusal will only disrupt your child’s life more. In fact, it will make your child’s life confusing and chaotic as both you will have a different set of rules he or she has to obey.  

Who Is It Good For? 

Whether the right for refusal works for you depends on many components. However, here are a few situations where the first right of refusal is generally successful:  

If you and your ex communicate well together, then it’s a good sign that the right of refusal will work. The right of refusal requires regular communication, and parents must do so civilly. 

Of course, communication is a learned skill. However, parents must try not to argue too much. If parents argue on a regular basis, then it can spread tension throughout the household. Your child may get confused or even upset by your fighting. Thus, parents who can communicate their feelings in a calm and understanding manner will have a greater chance of success. 

If you and your ex work well with each other, then it’s likely the right of refusal will be a good option for both of you. Being able to work with flexibility, cooperation, and understanding allows for good co-parenting techniques. 

It also shows your child good teamwork skills and proper communication methods. Parents who practice these skills will notice an increase in self-confidence and self-esteem. 

Thus, it’s likely your child will mirror your feelings and have an increase in self-esteem too. Parents may need help establishing guidelines at first, although parents who work well together will benefit from the right for refusal.  

If either your ex or yourself have difficult schedules, the right to refusal can help with that. Whether it’s due to work, school, or other engagements, if you’re unavailable during your allotted time, that’s where your ex can step in. 

By having someone there to support your child, you don’t have to worry about him or her being looked after by strangers. Instead, your child can be in the safe hands of family. 

Who Is It Not Good For?   

Sometimes a right of refusal would make a situation worse rather than better. Here are a few common situations:

If, for example, there’s been a history of domestic violence between you and your ex, you might want to think twice before agreeing to the right of refusal. Whether there’s been restraining order placed or not, it’s likely not a good idea. 

You see, it could cause more harm to you and your child since you would have to regularly interact and communicate with your ex to discuss the needs of your child. It’s better if you come up with another custody arrangement that better suits your needs. 

If your ex has limited time due to supervised visitation, it would not be advised to seek the right of first refusal. It’s in the child’s best interest to stay full time with a parent that has a stable job and can provide a stable home life for the child.  

If you and your ex live far away from each other, the right of refusal cannot work practically. While it can be accommodated, in theory, however in practice, it won’t work out. It’s best to work out custody arrangements in another way. 

How to Fight for the Right of First Refusal

In some situations, not all parents will agree on the right of first refusal instead; sometimes parents will want to fight for it. This can happen if the custodial parent does not trust that the non-custodial parent can look after the child during their parenting time. 

Factors may be based on an unsafe neighborhood, past criminal history, or struggles with mental health or addiction. However, without an agreement from both parents, a right of first refusal cannot be implemented.   

A right of first refusal can be included after custody is determined. Although it would require modification through the court system. In order for a right of refusal to be applied, the non-custodial parent must prove why having the right of first refusal is beneficial.  

There are numerous ways; one could prove such an argument. For example, you can provide convincing testimony, documents, text messages, or have a witness testify on your behalf.  

You may win your case, if the court finds that the custodial parent is making arrangements only for themselves, but doesn’t grant you, the non-custodial parent, time aside from the allotted time provided by the custody calendar

Not only are the custodial parent hurting you their ex and co-parent, but your children as well. Your children need time with both parents, and since they’re losing out on that quality time, they might have decreased self-confidence. 

Also, the tension that spurs from not seeing your child might foster within the family dynamics and spread unnecessary stress. It’s best to talk a lawyer and fight for the right of refusal as needed. That way, you’ll know if it’s best to communicate your needs through the court system or if maybe you should wait it out and see if your ex responds favorably to your requests.  

How to Avoid Conflict During the Right to Refusal  

While the right of refusal does encourage children to spend more time with both parents, although conflict can make it difficult for parents to plan parent time exchanges. It’s best to keep each other informed about any uncertain plans that may require adjustments to be made. That way, no arguments break out, or tensions are flared. Rather everyone’s on the same page about the family schedule, including children. 

Children should be kept in the loop and told as much information about who is spending time with who. That way, children are less confused as to why they are spending this weekend with mommy vs. this weekend with daddy.  

Are You Ready to Fight for the Right of First Refusal Custody?  

The right of first refusal custody protects your rights to be with your child as a parent. That way, you can spend quality one-on-one time getting to know your child and watching him or her grow up. 

Just remember the right to the first refusal is centered around effective communication. Thus, if you and your ex struggle to communicate, the right of refusal might not be the correct custody strategy for you. Although if you two work well as a team, you’ll have a greater chance of success.