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Establishing a child custody plan that works

Many Pennsylvania parents erroneously think that their parenting situation will become far simpler after they become a single parent. Child custody experts say that although you have eliminated one variable -- your ex-spouse -- you have added exponentially to the amount of work you must do to maintain the status quo in your family. This is why it is so important to develop a "cadence" to your co-parenting; both parents need and deserve assistance in raising the children, even if the adults no longer live in the same household together.

So, just how do you develop this rhythm of care with your co-parent? The key, according to those who have been through the experience, is flexibility and communication. For example, if your co-parent wakes up to find that one of your children is ill -- and she cannot secure a babysitter on short notice -- you may have to pick up the slack. With that being said, it is imperative that both parents are actually honest about the children's health status. If one parent is continually dumping the children on the other because they are "ill," the co-parent might start noticing a trend and becoming resentful.

Parents also need to work together to coordinate school activities, including extracurricular activities and sporting events. Ask your co-parent about signing your children up for certain types of activities, as having to shuttle kids back and forth to soccer practice could quickly become a burden for the unprepared parent. A little consideration goes a long way.

If you are sharing joint custody, it is likely because the judge has determined that such a setup is in the best interests of the child. Your youngster deserves to have two parents who function together as a team. Work to cultivate an amicable relationship with your ex, and you will soon fall into the rhythm of co-parenting that works for your family.

Source: The Huffington Post, "The Cadence of Co-Parenting: Staying Close Even After Divorce" John McElhenney, Jul. 28, 2014

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