Shared custody is becoming increasingly common for divorced parents. There are many positives for children in having both parents involved in their lives. However, the transition between homes, whether it's every few days, once a week or on some other schedule outlined in your custody (or "time sharing," as it's called in Florida) agreement, can be difficult for children -- particularly in the beginning.
Parents can help make those transitions smoother for their kids -- and for themselves. Following are a few tips:
Make sure your kids know and understand the schedule
Kids need some predictability in their lives -- particularly in the midst of a parental break-up. Therefore, it's essential for them to know where they'll be on any given day in the near future. Make sure they have access to the time-sharing schedule.
A good, old-fashioned paper calendar is often the best way to do this. Print out a copy and keep it at both houses where kids can see it whenever they want. If they're younger, let them decorate it to make it their own. Older kids might prefer an electronic version that they can access on their phones.
Try to keep changes to a minimum. However, if you and your co-parent need to change the schedule, be sure that you inform your kids as soon as possible and help them update their calendars.
Keep the transitions peaceful
This isn't the time to confront your co-parent about late support payments or complain that they were late in picking up the kids (even if they were). Have those discussions away from the kids. Don't make these transitions something that your kids dread.
Minimize the amount of packing that needs to be done
Your kids will likely need and want to carry some school books and other items as they move between homes. However, try to keep enough clothes, toys, electronics, toiletries and other items at both homes so that they don't feel like they're "visiting" when they're at one home (or both). They should feel like they belong in both of their parents' homes.
If you're having problems with your co-parent during these transitions that you can't resolve with your co-parent, talk with your Florida family law attorney to determine what your best options are to ensure your children's well-being.