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Old 11.04.2016, 23:48
doropfiz doropfiz is offline
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Re: Looking for people who share physical custody

Although I cannot offer you personal experience, I can write a little about a few other such situations about which I know, at least peripherally. One was a disaster with endless fight, and others work out fairly well. The following points are, therefore, just a random list of ideas which I've been told work for others, or what to avoid so life doesn’t become a constant strain.

Where to live
If at all possible, move home so as to live within easy reach of each other. In an ideal case, the child would be able to walk from parent to parent, and from each parent’s home to school.
This arrangement takes care of the forgotten swimming costume or the need for the bicycle, as it is easy to bring these backwards and forwards.
It also allows the child continuity during the week, including the further huge benefit to the social life of the child: having Ali over to play, or accepting an invitation to a movie-night at Sara’s, does not have to be explained with “Oh, no, I can’t then, because I’ll be at Mom’s”.
Any extra commute that the parents may then have, to work, may be well worth it.

Make a clear arrangement about when the child(ren) move(s) between parents
Some parents specify the days exactly, and stick to that list, no exceptions, no “swaps” of days or nights. This makes for great clarity, and is especially useful if one or both parents tend not to stick to arrangements themselves, or have the feeling that the other doesn’t.
Others enjoy having the flexibility, so they can also do other activities. “Swapping” time can sometimes make sense in terms of the child’s activities, too, such as participation in a sport, and perhaps it suits everyone better if only a specific one parent goes along (e.g. Dad enjoys watching football, Mom finds in boring).

Renegotiate from time to time
No schedule is ever carved in stone. Each newly divorced ex-spouse has to learn how to cope with the whole planning, and agreements. Some aspects seem fine when one agrees to them, but turn out not to work in reality.
The children grow up and their needs change. The parents, too, enter new phases of their own professional and private life. Maybe one or the other will meet a new partner, perhaps have more children, or deal with those the new partner brings along.
It's a pity to stumble on the desparate need for certainty while, in fact, you all don't know exactly how it is going to work. Therefore, if both parties are rational and at least somewhat co-operative, it can be a stress-relieving strategy to agree on how things are going to work, and then diligently stick to that plan, but on the understanding that it will run until a certain date, say, three months or two school-terms hence. Then sit and review things.

Make a sensible arrangement about a car. Perhaps forego having one at all.
In one family I know, the divorced parents share ownership of a big car and a small one. The car swaps together with the children. This only works if there is an arrangement in place about filling the tank, and if the two adults can trust each other to share the bills for servicing and insurance.
Alternatively, set the arrangements of the transfers to correspond with the public transport timetables (we’ll be on the 17.22 bus) because this can help set the times very clearly.

Accept differences in parenting styles
The child lives in two homes now. For your own sanity, give up on the notion that your ex-spouse is going to raise the child the way you would. If you and your ex-spouse can reach a fairly consistent general direction, at least for those aspects of life that affect the transfer, that'll be pretty good.
Teach the child clearly that there are hundreds of opinions about where to put the shoes, how to close the packaging or where to hang up the clothes, and that in This Home it works this way, and in the Other Home there probably is a different system, and that - at least in most cases - the two systems are neither right nor wrong, but acceptable variations. However, in the This Home the rules here apply. If the child is old enough, offer to at least listen if ever he or she wishes to propose a different way of doing things... and see whether the reasons are strong enough for you to consider changing your rules.

Call a family mediator
If ever things get tough, conflict-ridden, or confusing, consult a family mediator.
If you can find one that you both feel okay with, you could go for a long time without help, but if a new difficulty arises, call that person in again.

Keep your own personal diary
If there is any likelihood of arguments between the parents, do take the trouble to write down when the child arrived in your home, and when the child left to go to the other parent. EVERY time. At least for those first three to six months, whereafter, as long as things are peaceful, you can probably happily ditch this diary.
And then revive it once things change significantly because the child, or one of the parents, is in a new phase of life.
This diary should contain not only the dates and times, but also any significant activity in the child’s life, (emergency medical, school excursion, bought bicycle), and any costs thereunto.

Keep a CHILD’s diary which passes between the parents, every time, together with the child
Give the diary a name, e.g. Bonny's Book.
This diary can be electronic (as a calendar to which you both have access) or physical.
Physical (in a paper book of blank A4 pages) has the advantage of being able to glue in that card with the dentist’s appointment, those instructions of the new toy, the letter from the school, a prescription from the paediatrician.
No need to sort these things by categories; you can just work forwards in the book chronologically. Date the entries.
Also write notes to each other that could be important for follow-through, e.g. “Bonny vomited suddenly at 4 a.m., but went back to sleep and seemed fine in the morning, so we didn’t need to go to the doctor. No temperature. Didn’t want to eat lunch. Slept all afternoon.”
A physical book also has the advantage that, with time, Bonny can learn to use it, too.
Don't put money issues in Bonny's Book. They are an issue between the parents, and the child should not be burdened with them. Exception: pocket money

Be very clear about it.
Document what you do.
If it isn’t working out after a while, try to re-negotiate the deal, whatever it is.

Big spending
If possible, agree between both parents that large items will not be bought without consultation between the parents. Do you want the child to have its own ipad or not? Is it okay with you if the other parent buys it? Is it okay if you buy it?
Large items can sway a child’s perspective (impressed by who buys the flashier devices) and agreeing on items (e.g. large sports gear, electronics, games) and/or a sum, e.g. Fr. 300 (or whatever is applicable to your respective budgets), over which purchases will not be made without checking with the other parent, can help to avoid competition between the parents (made by the parents themselves or driven by the child).

Pocket Money
If at all possible, try to agree with the other parent on the amount, and what the child is or is not allowed to spend it on. Make sure you are not accidentally both giving the child money such that it has too much spending power relative to its age.

Equipment and Gear
Make a rule about bicycles, ski equipment, sports gear, laptops. Do they stay with one parent or with the other? In one family, they decided to get duplicate (second-hand) bikes, which was an initial expense but saved them all a lot of work in transporting.

Go to see the school together
Ask for an appointment with the teacher(s) and also go to the office.
Explain that you have joint custody and joint residence, and that you are organising it peacefully. For this reason, they have to send everything they write to BOTH of you, not just to one. Tell them that letters sent home with the child get stuck into the child’s diary, but that it would be better for you both to get everything official from the school, sent to each of you separately. By email if possible, because your particular arrangement could mean a delay, depending where the child is.
If it is true (which I would hope, for you and your child), tell them you are both interested in attending the parents’ evening and the school play.
If this is not possible co-operatively between your ex-spouse and you, then do this alone. In that case, take along the document which grants you joint custody.
Duplicate the procedure with the trainer or leader for every sport or club your child joins, in which you need to know when the practices, matches or performances are.

Speak or write to your parents and parents’ in law
If the child’s grandparents are alive and participating closely in the child’s life, try to speak to them, once again, if at all possible, together, or if that is not possible, do it alone. This applies to uncles and aunts, godparents, etc., too.
Or at least let them know (if this is do-able within the relationships) that you and your ex-spouse are divorced from each other, but not from your child, nor from all these people, who remain the child’s family/network.
Obviously, don’t force this onto any relationship which was awful anyway. But it is work getting clarity if the child is going to spend any time with these people.
Sometimes the ex-in-laws feel duty-bound to be loyal to their own blood, but would, in fact, for themselves, just like to be able to be relaxed with everyone. It is a pity if the child loses contact with its aunt, just because she is afraid to speak to the ex-sister(or brother)-in-law, lest she offend, or because she is feeling awkward.
Be the one to make your child(ren)’s family contact possible.

I don’t know if any of these ideas help you, or if they’re the kind of input you’re looking for. If any of it doesn’t fit, for your particular situation, just reject it, okay? I hope you all work out good, stress-free methods.

Last edited by doropfiz; 12.04.2016 at 00:39. Reason: adding pocket money, and more ideas
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