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Some Practical Steps to Make Shared Child Custody Easier for Everyone

One of the hardest subjects after a divorce concludes is how to handle the relationships and emotions involved in shared child custody. It takes time for both parents and children to adjust to a new "normal", but there are certain things that parents can do to ease the transition.

One strategy that parents with shared custody can use to develop the relationship with their children on days when the children are with the other parent is to make the most of a phone call or skype visit. Plan a phone call or skype visit at a predictable time and day that works for your children. Don't try setting up a time that will not practically work, such as planning a phone call with a teenage child at a time you know they will be out with friends. You should also accept that the phone call may be short and only last a few minutes. A great way to supplement planned communication time is to send cards or ecards to let your children know you are thinking about them.

Another way to ease the transition to shared child custody is to help your children feel comfortable in your home whether it is a new home or the family home. Children will feel more at ease if the other parent is welcome in your home. Let your children place a picture of the other parent in their room, and to capture the memories between you and your children make a photo album of those fun memories.

When it's time for your children to stay with you, they should not have to feel like traveling salesperson. Make sure your children have their own toothbrush, clothes and pajamas at your place, and it's okay if a child wants to bring a favorite toy or stuffed animal between homes.

Structure helps manage expectations and creates a sense of being comfortable. Therefore, your children should know the rules of your house. Rules should change as the children age and mature, but overall the rules should be consistent. Finally, you can create new traditions by incorporating favorite activities and favorite shows into your children's time with you.

Source:, "Sharing Custody of My Child: What Do I Do?" Ann Blumenthal Jacobs, Patricia Ryan Lampl, and Tish Rabe, June 11, 2012

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