Ten Steps For Joint Custody
Presented by the Stepfamily Foundation. Written by Jeannette Lofas, Ph.D., LCSW
- Joint Custody should not be considered unless both parents are able to co-parent.
Joint custody is often awarded. It often does not work out well for the children.
- Parents must be able to talk to each other and to cooperate.
They must be able to work out the children's problems, activities and visitation.
- Agreements with their partners about joint custody---
Stepparents, live-in lovers and stepdaters on each side---must be clear and agreed to.
- Stepparents and partners must agree on expectations, job descriptions, forms and norms. They may be different in each household. Partners must agree on the extent of their involvement during custody periods. All must know what are their responsibilities and what behavior is expected.
- The visitation schedule must be cast in legal cement.
It must be exact. Children and adults need positive predictability. No negative surprises! Inconsistency is one of the worst enemies of children, and especially those who live in step.
- There needs to be a Visitation Ritual" - milk and cookies or popcorn and soda- when kids arrive. We must smooth the "jolt" for children as they move between homes. The "Visitation Ritual" allows reentry time, time for parents to discuss plans and expectations.
- Rules of the House and Good manners and unacceptable behavior must be clearly agree must be posted to by the couple. If you can not agree, get a session of counseling.
- Childen need a place for a few of their things.
A drawer, place in the closet must be kept as "theirs." Otherwise they feel like guests and not part of our household. Keep essential underwear and socks and some clothes for them at your home.
- Allocation of money needs to be agreed to by the couple.
- Guard Your Sense of Humor.
The issues you fight over today may be laughed over in the future.
The Stepfamily Foundation Inc. is a not for profit, formed in 1975 to inform and counsel those who live in re-coupled families. Counseling is done on the telephone worldwide and in person in New York City and the East End of Long Island . It also conducts Certification Seminars for professionals, coaches, clergy and attorneys.
Dr. Jeannette Lofas is the President and Founder of the Stepfamily Foundation, Inc., and the author of Stepparenting, Family Rules, Living In Step, and He’s OK, She’s OK. She is a lecturer and noted journalist, and has been counseling stepfamilies for over thirty years.Dr. Lofas is licensed social worker and a certified mediator. She is a member of such organizations as The Association for Family Conflict and Conciliation, The Center for Family and Divorce Mediation and The New York State Council on Divorce Mediation.