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Resolving Disputes in Joint Custody Arrangements

Raising children is difficult work. Even parents who have good relationships with each other often struggle with parenting. The stress associated with raising children increases when the parents cannot get along. Often, after bitter divorces or custody disputes, parents are left with hurt feelings and a lot of anger, which impedes their ability to co-parent effectively. When both parents spend time with a child in a joint custody arrangement, the parents need to be able to get along to a certain extent and a parent can follow a few tips to improve a tense situation with their child's other parent.

Communication Is Key

Experts suggest that one of the most crucial elements to working through problems with a child's other parent is to maintain communication, even if the relationship is strained. One technique for dealing with the other parent in a civil manner is to pretend that he or she is a client that the parent does not like. It allows the parent to keep a professional tone yet remain detached.

Communication specialists also advise eliminating the words "always" and "never" from a person's vocabulary. Using those words inflames the conversation and puts the other person on the defensive.

Parents should also encourage their children to communicate directly with the other parent, rather than having mom or dad intervene on the child's behalf. One parent will be less likely to see the other parent as meddling if the child is speaking for him or herself about issues of concern to the child.

In some cases, limiting communication may also be important. Resolve never to discuss things while angry or upset. Parents with particularly tense relationships may need to limit their communication to a certain time of day or form of communication in order to set healthy boundaries and prevent each interaction from devolving into an argument.

Creative Solutions

Parents need to take responsibility for their part in the destructive cycle of interactions with the other parent and then take steps to change their own behaviors. Parents cannot change others, but they can alter how they interact with others. If they recognize that certain things have not worked in the past, parents should brainstorm ideas for how to do things differently in the future.

Consult an Attorney

Custody disputes often can become complex due to the unique circumstances of each family. If you are having issues with child custody, consult an experienced family law attorney who can discuss your situation with you and advise you of your options.