Some aspects of shared custody after a divorce are quick and straightforward for you and your ex to address. Your parenting plan or custody order will likely include rules regarding the transfer of custody and who gets to spend certain special days, like the holidays, with your children.
You and your ex will always have the option of changing those terms in the future, but it can be beneficial to have court paperwork that guides custody in the early days of your pre-divorce separation and even after your divorce.
While the courts can give concrete and specific guidance on parenting time, it can be much harder for them to help parents address disagreements about legal custody. Sharing legal custody can quickly lead to contentious disagreements and the need for outside help after a divorce.
It can be hard to agree with one another at the end of a marriage
Physical custody involves the responsibility to provide for your children and spend time with them, while legal custody involves your parental authority to make decisions on behalf of your child. It’s not that hard to imagine how a couple going through a divorce might wind up at odds with one another about major decisions for their children.
If you have different values or religion, it can be difficult to agree on what religious observations the children should adhere to and even what medical care or education they require. The obligation to agree on major decisions can make shared legal custody a source of ongoing conflict for your family after a divorce.
The right help can make decision-making easier for you
Some parents with shared legal custody find that it is easiest for them to use communication software to talk about important issues, such as setting a new curfew for the children or addressing health concerns. Other people attempting to co-parent after a divorce may find that working directly with a professional, such as a mediator or possibly a counselor, can help them sort out disagreements and find solutions that work for their family.
In scenarios where parents simply cannot reach decisions that work for the children, it may become necessary to go back to the courts and ask them to more carefully split legal custody, possibly by allocating authority about different issues to each parent or by giving one parent the final decision-making authority even if they should consider the input from the other parent.
Getting help with both the creation of your initial parenting plan and any modifications necessary will make shared custody easier for your family.