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How to Navigate Child Custody During Divorce

As common as divorce is, the process is rarely easy for everyone involved. Every situation is different and has its own pressure points, and navigating to the best outcome can take some work. Fortunately, many divorces are completed with a minimum of tension — this is often due to the process of co-parenting counseling, which sets up a constructive dialogue and aims to resolve the most important aspects of the divorce without entering into an expensive (not to mention ugly) legal process.

Among those important aspects, child custody is at the top of the list. When divorcing parents really have to sit down and think about child custody issues, and what the reality of the situation is going to be once the divorce is finalized, a lot of emotions can quickly come to the surface. This is only natural. In most cases, both parents want as much involvement as possible in the children’s lives — and striking the right balance is almost always in the best interests of the children themselves.

So how do you effectively navigate child custody during divorce? Is there a foolproof way to reach a constructive and positive outcome?

Well, not exactly. Because there are so many variables involved (including different personalities and parenting styles), it would be silly to reduce everything down to a few simple headlines.

That said, during the process of navigating child custody, there are certain things that are almost always a good idea.

1. Communicate

Having the time and space to say what needs to be said, and to communicate clearly about co-parenting concerns and fears, is vitally important. This is the aim of custody and parenting time consultations. When led by a trained professional, this process can significantly help the communication process and lead to better co-parenting outcomes in the long run.

2. Keep the child’s interests in mind

Since emotions are often running high during divorce, custody can be a very contentious topic as both parents begin to fear the worst in terms of a custody battle and the potential outcome. It’s important to keep the children at the forefront of the conversation and focus on their wellbeing. This will help both parents reach toward a more constructive mindset in terms of custody and co-parenting.

3. Be honest about needs and preferences

Co-parenting means that both parents continue to play their role, albeit separately, in the lives of the children involved. That means both parents are going to need a sharpened understanding of parenting styles, and the difference between needs and preferences. A parenting need is something vital, such as making sure the child takes his or her medication. Parenting preferences are another issue, and parents have to work together to find the best solution.

Keeping the right mindset

As a parent facing custody and co-parenting issues, your mindset is vitally important to the long-term health and wellbeing of your children — and to your family as a whole. Getting into a more constructive mindset isn’t always easy, but professional counseling can be a hugely positive influence in tough situations.