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Robert N. Getz

Rules to follow when a joint child custody plan is in place

When a couple has children and they choose to divorce, figuring out the best custody plan can be a bit of a challenge. The state of Washington, like most other states, promotes joint child custody when appropriate. Studies show that having access to both parents has long-term benefits for the affected children. Unfortunately, parents sometimes struggle to make this type of custody arrangement work. Here are a few ground rules that they can follow to make joint custody more manageable.

Rule number one: Good communication is necessary. Not all exes are on good speaking terms. When they are sharing time with children, though, they have to find a way to keep each other informed about what is going on with their kids. Those who cannot speak to each other may be better off sending emails or texts. The key is to make sure all communication is just about the children.

Rule number two: Remember that this is about the kids. Too many people try to use custody plans to punish their former spouses. A good custody plan will take both parents' schedules and their children's schedules and needs into consideration. The goal is to create a custody arrangement that gives children access to both parents, allows the parent-child relationships to grow and puts children in the best living arrangement possible under the circumstances.

Rule number three: Keep negative talk away from the children. Exes fight, and they often do not have the nicest of things to say about each other. It is okay to vent to friends or adult family members. Children do not need to hear their parents speaking badly about each other, though. It does not help anyone and can strain the parent-child relationship.

There are several other ground rules Washington residents may need to set when putting together a joint custody plan. These three are just a good place to start. Joint child custody can be a good thing when both parents are willing to do their best to make it work. Legal counsel can help those going through the divorce process create custody plans that serve the best interests of their families or help those with current custody orders in place modify the plans if doing so becomes necessary.

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