A new way to look at joint custody arrangements

Divorce is one of the worst things a kid can go through. However, some have devised a plan to take at least a little of the sting out of it. Letting the children stay in the family home and the parents shuffle back and forth.

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  • “Divorce is the psychological equivalent of a triple coronary by-pass. After such a monumental assault on the heart, it takes years to amend all the habits and attitudes that led up to it.” — Mary Kay Blakely

  • When parents decide to divorce, the toll it takes falls mainly on the children. The impact it has is generally powerful and excruciating. The logistics often involve being shuffled around between two homes. That entails an endless stream of insecurity and instability. From day to day or week to week, they are asked to leave their creature comforts behind and go to a new and strange place. In the process, there is a seemingly neverending list of mishaps that occur, no matter how careful the planning.

  • Things forgotten at the other home

  • Bookbags, library books, swimsuits, gym clothes, homework, church shoes, woobies, favorite stuffed animals, etc., which often results in a lot of "Why didn't you think of that?"s and derogatory remarks about the other parent's inability to get things right.

  • Not being around the things that give them comfort

  • Their own bed, the things in their room that they see right before they close their eyes at night, pets, yard equipment, video games, DVDs, computers and programs, neighborhood friends, nearby parks and playgrounds, and bicycles.

  • Different schools, teachers, recreational facilities, etc

  • Often it becomes difficult to find something suitable in the same area as your original home. In such cases, children may be asked to switch back and forth between schools. This is just adding insult to their injury.

  • The list goes on and on, but these two sets of problems can be handled in an innovative way of co-parenting: Letting the children stay where they are and you two shuffle back and forth. This can be handled in a couple of different ways.

  • One parental apartment

  • Mutually agree upon an apartment and share according to your custody agreement. Dad lives there when mom is with kids. Mom stays there when dad has kids. This would take a lot of logistical planning and laying down of mutually agreeable rules.

  • Two separate residences

  • This involves a lot more expense, but cuts down on the stress of sharing an apartment. It also is a better option should either of you become involved romantically with someone else.

  • Of course, this will be challenging for the two of you because, in addition to the heartbreak of a split, you are now going to have to work together to lay the groundwork for this plan:

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    1. You will now have to remember what to take back and forth: Belts, shoes, books, paperwork, clothes for the gym, etc.

    2. This will also involve a lot of financial planning and determining who pays for what. Prepare your plan and put it into writing, or a contract like this one. Think about the other person's time and resources. Make it work for the children.

    3. Don't leave any stone unturned. Think about dating. What is and isn't allowed in the shared apartment? Agree to leave it clean, and respect the privacy of the other parent's things.

  • Children should be the first thought in a separation or divorce. They are the paramount concern. Whatever you can do to make it easier for them should be in the forefront of your decisions. This site provides a lot of resources to support you in this decision.

  • In addition, many states offer (some even make it mandatory) a program called Children 1st. They even offer an online class. It can assist you in resolving issues surrounding divorce, separation, custody, all with the children being first in your hearts and decisionmaking.

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Becky Lyn is an author and a 35+ year (most of the time) single mom.

Website: http://www.beckytheauthor.weebly.com

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