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You may not be happy to hear this, but today's family court judges seldom side in favor of either the father or the mother in the average custody battle. Most judges want to see a joint custody plan worked out between the divorcing parents. (Failing that, the judge will usually assign one.)

Yes, it can be a pain to try to coordinate schedules with your ex, especially around holidays, birthdays and other important events, but there are things you can do to make it easier. Here are some of the best ways to make joint custody workable:

1. Remember that your divorce is over

There's no reason to rehash anything. Focus your attention -- and your conversations -- around the kids.

2. Don't overshare

You don't need to tell your ex-spouse anything about your life unless it affects the kids. Don't be tempted to share too much -- especially if things are going well. You could easily fan the flames of an argument.

3. Set realistic expectations

Don't make a commitment to your child or your ex-spouse unless you're able to fulfill it. Don't ask your ex-spouse to commit more than he or she can reasonably manage.

4. Consider custody a business arrangement

If you can separate the business of being in a co-parenting situation with your ex from your emotions, you'll have a much easier time handling the situation.

5. Tailor the custody plan to your children

The needs of very young children differ drastically from the needs of adult children. They have vastly different school and social lives, for example. Their attachment level to their parents also differs greatly. Focus on a plan that works now with the full knowledge that your child's needs may change in the future.

6. Look for the right way to communicate

Do you always end up in a screaming match with your ex when you try to talk in person? Consider text or email instead. If email leads to confusion, schedule brief phone calls. There's a good way to communicate out there -- you may just have to work to find it.

Child custody situations are often complicated -- but they can smooth over with time and persistent effort. If you're struggling to work out a child custody agreement, remember that you don't have to struggle alone.


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