Co-parents have a lot to work out with one another when adjusting to shared custody arrangements. In addition to handling their feelings about their relationship with each other, they have to manage the challenges of frequent custody exchanges and the emotional impact of seeing their children less frequently.
Certain issues are likely to cause disagreements between co-parents, such as last-minute changes to the schedule. There are also issues that could arise in the future that could do real damage to your co-parenting relationship and put your children in an uncomfortable situation if you don’t take a proactive approach to certain considerations.
For example, the end of your relationship with your child’s other parent means that eventually the two of you will pursue other romantic opportunities. It is natural to worry about whether a new romantic partner might mistreat your children or neglect them. Can you prevent your co-parent from leaving your children alone with their new love interest until you’re comfortable with them?
You can address outsourced child care in your parenting plan
In rare cases, parents may agree to protect the children by not introducing them to new romantic partners. However, the courts are very unlikely to enforce or create a custody order that specifically prevents one parent from introducing the child to others.
Yet, adding the right of first refusal to a parenting plan can be helpful. This means that one parent must always check with the other for their availability before leaving the child with a childcare professional, family members or a romantic partner for babysitting purposes.
Including the right of first refusal in your parenting plan will give you the option to spend time with your kids when your co-parent won’t be there. Especially when your children are young or otherwise particularly vulnerable to mistreatment, you may want to prevent your co-parent from leaving them alone with people who might engage in abusive behavior.
What your children need should always be the first priority
There is a significant difference between seeking to minimize potential abuse risks and trying to interfere in someone else’s future relationships. You will need to take careful steps to ensure the safety and well-being of your children while handling custody issues without letting any emotional hangups about your ex keep you from making sound decisions, which can be easier said than done.
Thankfully, adding special clauses to your parenting plan can take some of the dispute and risk out of sharing custody across two separate households.