Parents in New Jersey who are going through a separation may think that co-parenting with their ex is an impossible task. Though people cannot change the behavior of others, they can reflect on their own actions that could be making things harder for their children.

For example, when parents speak ill of one another to their children, this only makes the children feel more alienated and confused. Parents should leave the dirty details of the divorce and the venting for conversations with their friends and therapists and use their child custody time to bond with and focus on their children. Divorce is almost always a challenge for children, so parents should try to make themselves available and encourage their children to talk about these difficulties.

Parents who do not want to come up short in a divorce will sometimes vie for a child custody schedule that does not actually work with their job or other commitments. If a parent cannot have custody 50% of the time, or if a parent needs to give the other parent an extra custody night due to a work commitment, it is best to be honest and remember that a joint child custody schedule is meant to better the child’s interests, not the parents’.

If parents are able to do a 50-50 custody schedule, they should try to be flexible and open to different possibilities. If children are younger, it is better to alternate custody more often, such as trading off every two to four nights with either a 3-4-4-3 or a 2-2-3 schedule.

When parents struggle with the fact that their ex will have the children half of the time, they should keep in mind that being a bad spouse does not necessarily mean being a bad parent. If a parent finds it too challenging to communicate with an ex face-to-face, he or she should find a method that does work, such as texting or communicating through a family law attorney.