One of the things parents often find hardest to face when they divorce is adjusting to the idea of having to share their time with their children with their former spouses, rather than having their children with them all of the time as they had in the past. Parents want what is best for their children, but are not always able to agree what type of custody arrangements will meet their children's needs most effectively - leading to protracted battles and sometimes litigation. However, Pennsylvania parents can follow some simple steps to reduce conflict surrounding child custody disputes.

Focus on the Child

Parents trying to negotiate custody and visitation schedules should always remember that the child's best interests are of primary importance. Custody arrangements are not supposed to be about what parents prefer or would be most convenient for them. Custody and visitation should foster the parent-child relationship between the child and both parents to the greatest extent possible so the child benefits from having both parents play an active role in his or her life.

Parents who can remain child-centered in their negotiations often find it easier to reach agreements about custody.

Be Realistic

Parents who understand that they will have to make some compromises find they are able to reach agreements with their former spouses more quickly. When parents acknowledge that they cannot fill the roles of both parents to their children and that there is value to having the other parent in the child's life, they are often able to find middle ground that is acceptable to everyone.

Keeping expectations and requests reasonable goes a long way in speeding the negotiation process. One way to assess whether a parent is being reasonable is to try to see things form the other parent's point of view. Those who consider how they would react if the other parent asked for what they are asking are able to spot when they need to adjust their own attitudes.

Devil in the Details

In many cases, parents who try to reach an agreement on every minute detail find themselves bogged down and unable to resolve matters. In contrast, those who focus on substantial issues and leave flexibility in the agreement so it can adapt as things change as the child grows find they can reach agreements swiftly.

Child custody matters can be complex, given the unique circumstances of each family. If you have questions about child custody matters, consult a seasoned child custody attorney who can offer guidance.