Joint legal custody is the most common type of legal custody awarded in New Jersey. Joint legal custody means that both parents share equally in making big decisions for their children that affect their general welfare. After a divorce or the end of a relationship, making big parenting decisions together with your former partner can be challenging, but there are some techniques to help make it as smooth as possible.
The first, and most important, rule about joint custody is to never speak badly about the other parent in the presence of the child. This is essential not only to keeping your relationship amicable (or at least workable) with the other parent, but also to helping your child’s emotional well-being. Remember that your ex is your child’s parent. You may not love your ex, but your child does. The importance of encouraging and fostering your child’s bond with the other parent cannot be understated.
Next, try your best to separate your emotions from your interaction with the other parent. You may be hurt and angry, but it will not end well If you display that anger when trying to make big parenting decisions. Remember that decisions about holiday time division, extra-curricular activities, or the like are about your child and what will benefit that child. Try to put aside your negative emotion about the other parent and focus on what will be best for your child.
Make a commitment to be respectful in your tone and in requests. Instead of making demands, make suggestions. If you enter a conversation by telling the other parent what is going to happen instead of suggesting a particular course of action, it is likely the other parent will get defensive and the conversation will be unproductive.
If you find that you have trouble communicating effectively, it may be helpful to use written communication. Using emails or text messages has the benefit of giving you time to compose your thoughts and express yourself. It has the added benefit of creating a record of your conversations so that if you need to refer back to a conversation, you already have it written down.
Above all, remember that you and the other parent have the exact same goal in mind – the best interest of the child. You may have different opinions about what that entails, but both of you simply are trying to do what’s best.
We have extensive experience in helping our clients with joint legal custody agreements. Call us today at(732) 479-4711 for an appointment. We can talk about your children and your custody arrangement, and help you create a realistic plan for your child’s future.