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After the agreement: How to resolve disputes when sharing custody

Reaching an agreement regarding custody is a significant accomplishment for parents. This agreement sets a foundation for building a new normal as parents move from raising children together to raising them separately.

However, issues can still arise, even in the most amicable and stable custody situations. Rather than let an argument or disagreement destroy everything, parents can take the following steps to resolve a dispute as peacefully as possible.

Use your words wisely

Miscommunication is the culprit in many custody-related conflicts. A person might misinterpret the tone of a text or forget to tell the other parent about a scheduling change. 

Even if you are very upset, using your words wisely can resolve the matter quickly. Instead of jumping to conclusions or getting angry, approach the other parent calmly, and explain what went wrong or ask for an explanation. 

You can do this in person, or you can do it through an email or text, which can allow you to be cautious about your wording before sending a message.

Get back to the basics

After many years of sharing custody, it can be easy to forget or misremember the details of your original parenting agreement or order. Things can become especially confusing if parents have made informal changes to the arrangement over the years.

To get back on track, review your parenting agreement or order. There could be information or guidance in there that directs you on how to resolve a specific issue yourselves.

Consider making a change

If you find yourselves unable to resolve a custody dispute or if you have the same fight over and over, you might consider changing your parenting agreement or submitting an application to have a judge review an order requesting changes.

Keep in mind that changes to your arrangement must be in the best interests of your child.

Don't expect perfection

Even if you and the other parent of your child have adjusted to shared parenting, complications and arguments can still arise. Try not to let these situations become major setbacks.

Instead, talk it out with each other, review your parenting plan for guidance and seek out legal support and solutions if you cannot resolve an issue yourselves. 

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